The California Poppy

May 5, 2016 by · Comments Off on The California Poppy 

By Phineas Upham

The eschscholzia californica, or California Poppy, is actually native to Mexico as well. Californians have adopted this gorgeous flower as their state flower. Poppies are perennials which tend to grow anywhere from 5-60 inches off the ground. You’ll be able to spot a poppy for yourself once you’ve recognized the signature four golden petals on the flower’s head.

Colors range from orange to yellow, which is why poppy fields tend to look golden when viewed from afar. Poppies also have a defense mechanism of sorts, which helps to protect them from cold weather. The petals can close up, opening again only when the sun is out. Cloudy weather has been known to keep the petals shut too, so keep viewings for sunny and bright days if you want to see the full majesty of a poppy.

Probably the best place to view California poppies in their element is at the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve near Lancaster, Ca. The preserve is a vast field with rolling hills, which makes for a perfect hike among eight miles of trails.

Although the plant is drough-tolerant, the recent historic drought in California has stifled the growth of the poppy. It’s been blooming off season, sometimes for shorter durations, which makes it difficult to see.

California poppy seeds were also an important part of native cooking for indigenous peoples. The seeds were used as oils, and the pollen made for a decent cosmetic.

If you can’t see the poppy at a preserve, in its natural state, your next best option might be the flower adorning every sign welcoming visitors to California. The state adopted this flower as its own in 1890, and April 6th is designated as “Poppy Day” in California.


Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or Twitter page.