A Sure Sign of Spring

Nothing represents spring in California like Eschscholzia californica, the California poppy. Growing up in California I was naturally in awe of this striking flower. From the time we were toddlers, our parents sternly warned us against picking the “state flower” for fear of arrest, imprisonment, or worse. :-) Even today they hold a special place in my imagination.

If you’re a bike commuter in the West, keep an eye out for these bright spots of color and take a few minutes to stop and enjoy their beauty before they’re gone again for another year.

From Wikipedia:

The California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is native to grassy and open areas from sea level to 2,000m (6,500 feet) altitude in the western United States throughout California, extending to Oregon, southern Washington, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and in Mexico in Sonora and northwest Baja California.

It can grow 5—60 cm tall, with alternately branching glaucous blue-green foliage. The leaves are ternately divided into round, lobed segments. The flowers are solitary on long stems, silky-textured, with four petals, each petal 2-6 cm long and broad; their color ranges from yellow to orange, and flowering is from February to September. The petals close at night or in cold, windy weather and open again the following morning, although they may remain closed in cloudy weather.[1] The fruit is a slender dehiscent capsule 3-9 cm long, which splits in two to release the numerous small black or dark brown seeds. It is perennial in mild parts of its native range, and annual in colder climates; growth is best in full sun and sandy, well-drained, poor soil.

It grows well in disturbed areas and often recolonizes after fires. In addition to being planted for horticulture, revegetation, and highway beautification, it often colonizes along roadsides and other disturbed areas. It is drought-tolerant, self-seeding, and easy to grow in gardens. It is also pictured in welcome signs while entering California.

It is the official flower of California. April 6 is designated California Poppy Day.

7 Responses to “A Sure Sign of Spring”

  • bonxie says:

    Hey, Alan, what are them thingies on your forks? Some sort of cutting edge anti-vehicular device? (Beautiful picture, thanks).

  • Bob G says:

    Hi Alan,
    I sure hope no CA poppies were trampled while composing your photograph. I would hate to see you imprisoned for it and not be able to contribute to this site on a daily basis…. ;-)

    Nice pic!

    Bob G
    Granite Bay, CA

  • Alan says:

    “Hey, Alan, what are them thingies on your forks? Some sort of cutting edge anti-vehicular device? “

    Lasguns… >:-]

  • Alan says:

    @Bob G

    Believe you me, none were trampled! I was sweating and looking around the whole time, making sure no one saw me even getting close to those babies! :-)

  • Eddie says:

    Yes, but you’ve posted the photographic evidence of transgression! Everyone recognizes your cork-and-leather-trimmed LHT! Prepare your explanation for the Poppy Police when they come knocking ;-)

  • Hank says:

    Hi Alan,
    California poppies…one of the things I miss most… Great shot. Thanks!

  • eileen says:

    and if you miss them in the off season, come to Chile, which mirrors California in some ways, and has seen the introduction of this lovely flower which furls against itself in the evening breeze, or as soon as the shade hits. Here it’s called dedal de oro (golden thimble), even though we all know it’s really an amapola (poppy). Add (or subtract) about six months to find the perfect season. They line the roadsides near Santiago.

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