Plants

Facts about California poppy

17 California poppy facts

Eschscholzia californica

Golden poppy is a yellow-flowered poppy plant native to the southwest of North America. It is also cultivated as an ornamental plant worldwide.

In addition to its decorative properties, this plant also has a health-promoting effect. It is a sedative plant that helps with sleep disorders and anxiety.

It has been a state flower of California since 1903 and is protected by law there.

California poppy
1
It is native to southwestern parts of North America.

Its main range is concentrated in California, but it is found over a wide area in Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Baja California and Sonora.

Prefers higher elevations, grows up to 2500 meters above sea level.

2
In the 19th century, the species spread to Chile, Australia, New Zealand, and other parts of the world with cargo ships.
3
It is a psychoactive plant, but not addictive.

It has been used by indigenous people in California since prehistoric times as a painkiller, sedative, and hypnotic drug. It produces mild psychoactive effects.

Today it is used by many people to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. It is not safe to use the plant without consulting a doctor, as it can be toxic in certain amounts.

4
It is an annual plant. It grows in sunny places, on light, sandy, calcareous soils.
California poppy prefers grassy, open areas. It is tolerant of cold weather but may die during harsh winters.
5
The plant may grow from 15 to 60cm (6 to 24in) depending on conditions.
In a colder climate, it is an annual plant while in a warmer environment may be a perennial.
6
The plant is densely branched, rather limp, and blue-green in color.
The Stem is free from the milky fluid. The leaves are multiply tripartite and narrowly lobed.
7
The flowering period begins in February and lasts until September.
It is not advisable to cut the flowers of the California poppy, because then it loses its petals very quickly.
8
Flowers are long-stalked and orange, yellow or red.
The petals are darker at the base. Some plants may have a pinkish tint to the petals.
9
Flowers grow solitary on long stems.
Each flower is made of four petals, which are 2 to 6 cm (0,87 to 2,36 in) long. Flowers are open during the day, except for cloudy weather.
10
Seeds are round or elliptic, colored brown or black.
The typical seed is 1,5 to 1,8 mm wide.
11
Fruits of California poppy are thin and elongated.
They form a dehiscent capsule 3 to 9 cm (1,2 to 3,5 in) long. Seeds are released when the fruit splits in two.
12
April 6 is a California Poppy Day.
13
Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve is a place when you can admire those flowers on a large scale.

Among other wildflowers, on over 1700 acres (7,2 km2), vast fields full of poppies are growing there. The reserve, located in Los Angeles County, was established in 1976 and is under the management of the California Department of Parks.

The plants are not irrigated or fertilized, leaving the ecosystem intact.  Animals are also not allowed in the park, except for service dogs. For visitors, there are over 7 miles (11 kilometers) of tracks for guests, including wheelchair-accessible trails. Despite the abundance of plants, picking flowers is prohibited.

14
It is an edible plant.
Seeds are used in cooking, while leaves are used as food or garnish.  It is used as a source of edible oil. Flowers can be used in salads or dried to prepare teas or tinctures.
15
It has been also used in natural medicine.

Various parts of the plant have been used to repel lice, to treat headaches and toothaches, among other things. The plant has been found to have sedative properties.

Some studies suggest that California poppy may help with sleep disorders by enhancing the response of GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid) - one of the major neurotransmitters involved in sleep regulation.

16
It is contraindicated in case of glaucoma, pregnancy or lactation.
It also interacts with barbiturates, benzodiazepines and first generation H1 antihistamines.
17
California poppy is pictured on California traffic signs of the State Scenic Highway System.
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