Wonderful Wildflowers – Becoming A California Poppy

By Teo Spengler | March 11, 2021
by Teo Spengler
March 11, 2021

The notion of becoming a flower is an appealing one, particularly as spring approaches. So many blossoms to choose among, each with a different look and different qualities. Shall I pick one for its fragrance, like the magnolia? A wildly exotic specimen like the vining passionflower? Something simple and classic like a rose?

My choice is entirely different from any of these categories. I picked a wonderful wildflower, a tough but vibrant plant: the California poppy (Eschscholzia californica). Why, you may ask. I’ve always adored these poppies that spring up out of nowhere to cover a hillside, and we share a surprising number of likes and dislikes.

Tough and Resilient

The California poppy is the state’s official flower. These Eschscholzia californica plants seem to grow everywhere, filling up empty lots and roadsides, fields, and woodland clearings. The foliage is green-blue and feathery, while the wildflowers are a golden orange. 

These wonderful wildflowers are tough, vigorous, and resilient””like me! Unlike other poppies, they don’t need coddling or even tending. If they find themselves in an appropriate environment, they are completely independent, not needing a private gardener but relying on nature for everything. In the wild, they light up entire meadows with their brilliant blooms. 

Independent and Wild

Everyone with a California poppy patch in their backyard will try it once”” taking a small bouquet of the silky flame colored blossoms for an indoor display. Good luck with that! The petals will fall before you can get the poppies into a vase. 

Left to their own devices in the garden or park, the flowers seem to last forever. Maybe their longevity is due to the fact that they close up when the sun disappears, then reopen with the morning sun. I completely share their early to bed, early to rise, ways. 

Cool Weather Fans

Another way I associate myself with poppies is that we have the same views on sun and heat. I personally love sunshine on a mild day, but when it’s hot, I move indoors. 

Just so, Eschscholzia californica plants require a sunny location to grow; they are weak and spindly when planted in shade. They peak out in springtime in areas with hot summers, dying back as steamy weather arrives. In areas with cool summers and mild winters, like San Francisco, they bloom almost all year-round.  

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