The official website of the Elkhorn Slough Foundation and Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve
Elkhorn Slough Plants: California Poppy

Scientific Name:
Eschscholzia californica

Papaveraceae (Poppy family)

Found at the Slough:
Upland grassland habitats, residential areas.

Did you know...
One flower can produce up to 80 seeds which are broadcast up to 3 feet away.

The California poppy is a delicate orange flower native to the Pacific slope of North America from Western Oregon to Baja California, but can be seen throughout the United States. Here within the watershed you will find it along roadsides, intermixed with grassland plants, and in residential areas.

This beautiful native flower is California's state flower. It was used by Native Americans as a food source and its oil and seeds were used for pain relief. It was named in 1816 by naturalist Adelbert Von Chamisso, who sailed into San Francisco Bay and found the hills covered by these charming golden flowers. It was named in honor of J.F. Eschscholtz (note Chamisso misspelled his name leaving out the "t" in the scientific name), a German botanist known for his collections of animals and plants in California. Today you will find poppies growing in gardens throughout the United States and around the world. In its native range is hard to distinguish which are wild and which are garden escapees at this point.

It's an easy plant to grow. At the Elkhorn Slough Reserve it is commonly grown from seed by ESNERR's stewardship program and planted with loving care by Reserve volunteers back into the landscape. You can see the results of their hard work near the visitor center and overlook but you will find this beauty growing wild along all the trails.

The California poppy can grow as an annual or a perenial depending on the climate. Here at the slough it acts as a perrenial and can be found in bloom most of the year (late winter to late fall). It grows over two feet tall on thin, weak stems. The leaves are finely dissected, grayish-green. The four-petaled flower can range in color from bright yellow to deep orange. Just below the cup-shaped flower you will find a pinkish circular ring called the receptacle. The flower closes at night and on windy days.




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This site is maintained by the Elkhorn Slough Foundation in partnership with the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve