Eschscholzia californica

Poppies, Purple Owl Clovers, White Popcorn Flowers — Southern Sierra Nevada

The California Golden Poppy was given its common name by Albert Chamiso in 1816 on a visit to San Francisco Bay. Chamiso was a German poet-naturalist accompanying a Russian Imperial Navy group as a member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences,. He gave the scientific name, Eschscholzia californica in honor of Johann Friedrich Eschsholtz, the ship's surgeon and naturalist.

Native Americans had been using the plant for thousands of years as a medicine and a food. The Bay Area Indians rubbed a concoction of the flowers into their scalps to kill lice. Mendocino Indians made a poultice of the roots to ease toothaches and also applied the mixture to sores. Women used the pollen as a cosmetic. Some tribes roasted the greens on hot stones for a delicious side dish and Indian mothers used the whole plant in a sedative to calm their cranky babies.

It was in 1890 that the members of the California State Floral Society decided that the state needed an official emblem and that a native flower would serve that purpose.

On March 2, 1903, the Oakland Tribune announced: "Today the golden poppy became the State flower of California by reason of the fact that Governor Pardee signed the bill to that effect, which had passed both houses."

The governor's action was greeted with cheers when his message was read in the Senate chambers. Oakland's Sara Allen Plummer Lemmon, the nationally known botanist had been lobbying for naming the poppy the state flower for more than 10 years. She was given the special pen used by the governor to sign the bill. []

The California Government Code

The law designating the golden poppy as the official California state flower is found in the California Government Code, General Provisions, Title 1, Division 2, Section 421:





421. The golden poppy (Eschscholzia) is the official State Flower. April 6 of each year is hereby designated California Poppy Day.


01eschscholzia5654cw 02eschscholzia_californica20607w 03eschscholzia_californica03462w 04eschscholzia_californica2444w
05eschscholzia_californica1070155w 06eschscholzia1040497w 07eschscholzia06894w 08eschscholzia_californica1070595w
09eschscholzia_californica1070653w 10eschscholzia_californica1370709w 11eschscholzia03566bw 12eschscholzia_californica4218w

Return to Wildflowers