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Eschscholzia californica ssp. mexicana
Eschscholzia californica Cham. ssp. mexicana (Greene) C. Clark
Mexican Gold Poppy, California Poppy
Papaveraceae (Poppy Family)
Synonym(s): Eschscholzia mexicana
USDA Symbol: ESCAM
USDA Native Status: L48 (N)
A low, smooth, pale bluish-green plant with fern-like leaves, mostly near base, and orange-yellow, cup-shaped flowers borne singly on stalks. Mexican gold poppy is a small, somewhat sprawling perennial, 6-24 in. tall and wide. Showy, yellow-orange flowers are borne on leafy, branching stems. The 2-3 in. wide, cup-shaped flowers, which bloom in response to moisture, temperature and sunlight, have a spicy fragrance. The lacy, blue-green, deeply dissected foliage is also attractive.
The Spanish name, Amopalo del Campo, means “poppy of the countryside.” This is appropriate, for when there are ample winter rains in the desert, this poppy grows in profusion, covering gravelly outwash fans and arid flats with a golden carpet. Once considered a separate species, Mexican Gold Poppy is now recognized as a desert-inhabiting subspecies of California Poppy (E. californica). The two subspecies are exceedingly similar, one consistent difference being that the first leaves on seedlings of Mexican Gold Poppy are linear and undivided, whereas on seedlings of California Poppy they are divided in a Y-shape (a difference learned by careful greenhouse study).
The genus is named after Dr. J.F. Eschscholtz who lived from 1793 to 1831. He performed duties as a surgeon and naturalist with Russian expeditions to the Pacific coast from 1815 to 1818.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Annual
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 2 feet tall.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Orange , Yellow
Bloom Time: Feb , Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
DistributionUSA: AZ , CA , NM , NV , TX , UT
Native Distribution: W. TX, NM,AZ, CA, NV and N. MX. Escaped elsewhere.
Native Habitat: Plains & mesas; 4500 ft. or lower
Growing ConditionsLight Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil Description: Well-drained sands & loams or limestone.
Conditions Comments: Mexican gold poppy resembles California gold poppy. It often self-sows to form large colonies. Its flowers are open in warm, dry, sunny weather, and are closed on cloudy and wet days and at night.
BenefitWarning: Can be poisonous if ingested. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a person’s age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxicity can vary in a plant according to season, the plant’s different parts, and its stage of growth; and plants can absorb toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Value to Beneficial InsectsSpecial Value to Native Bees
Special Value to Bumble Bees
This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
PropagationDescription: Sow seed in fall.
Commercially Avail: yes
Find Seed or Plants
Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
BibliographyBibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Web ReferenceWebref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter
From the ArchiveWildflower Newsletter 1988 VOL. 5, NO.3 - Wildflowers in Bloom, Education and Tours, Poppies Brighten Barren Places, Pamel...
Wildflower Newsletter 1989 VOL. 6, NO.2 - Wildflower Network Operates in Louisiana, Wildflower Handbook Published, Researc...
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Eschscholzia californica ssp. mexicana in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Eschscholzia californica ssp. mexicana in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Eschscholzia californica ssp. mexicana
MetadataRecord Modified: 2023-02-10
Research By: TWC Staff