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eschscholzia californica - Cham.

Common Name Californian Poppy
Family Papaveraceae
USDA hardiness 6-11
Known Hazards No records of toxicity have been seen but this species belongs to a family that contains many poisonous plants. Some caution is therefore advised.
Habitats Grassy open places to 2000 metres in California[71].
Range Western N. America - Washington to California and Nevada. A frequent garden escape in Britain.
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
eschscholzia californica Californian Poppy
eschscholzia californica Californian Poppy
(c) Trina Krieger


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Bloom Color: Orange, Pink, Red, Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Early fall, Late summer, Late fall, Late spring, Mid summer, Mid fall, Mid spring. Form: Rounded.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
eschscholzia californica is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6. It is in flower from July to September, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


E. douglasii.


 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves
Edible Uses:

Leaves - cooked[46, 61, 161]. This plant is in a family that contains many poisonous plants so some caution is advised in using it.


Medicinal Uses

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Anodyne  Antianxiety  Antidepressant  Antispasmodic  Diaphoretic  Diuretic  Galactofuge  Odontalgic

The Californian poppy is a bitter sedative herb that acts as a diuretic, relieves pain, relaxes spasms and promotes perspiration[238]. The whole plant is harvested when in flower and dried for use in tinctures and infusions[238]. It is taken internally in the treatment of nervous tension, anxiety, insomnia and incontinence (especially in children)[238]. The watery sap is mildly narcotic and has been used to relieve toothache[238]. It is similar in its effect to the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) but is much milder in its action and does not depress the central nervous system[238]. Another report says that it has a markedly different effect upon the central nervous system, that it is not a narcotic but tends to normalize psychological function[254]. Its gently antispasmodic, sedative and analgesic actions make it a valuable herbal medicine for treating physical and psychological problems in children[254]. It may also prove beneficial in attempts to overcome bedwetting, difficulty in sleeping and nervous tension and anxiety[254]. An extract of the root is used as a wash on the breasts to suppress the flow of milk in lactating females[207, 257].


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Other Uses

Perennial groundcover for zone 2 firebreaks. The US government has created a system of firebreaks for areas prone to wildfires, theses are separated into concentric zones surrounding buildings. Zone 2 is the second away from the house. These low-level groundcovers provide little fuel.

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife


Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Foundation, Massing, Rock garden. Prefers a poor sandy soil and a sunny position[108, 200] but is easily grown in an ordinary garden soil[1]. Succeeds in a hot dry position. Plants grow well in maritime climates[200]. A very ornamental plant, it is commonly grown in the flower garden and there are many named varieties[200]. This plant is the state flower of California[207]. Although a perennial it is usually quite short-lived and is more often grown as an annual in this country[187, 238]. It can tolerate temperatures down to about -10°c, however, and often survives mild winters[187]. If the dead flowers are removed before they set seed the plant will continue flowering for a longer period[188]. A polymorphic species[71]. Plants resent root disturbance and should be sown in situ[200]. The flowers are very attractive to bees[108]. They close during wet or overcast weather[238]. Plants often self-sow if the soil is disturbed by some means such as hoeing[200]. Special Features: Attractive foliage, North American native, Naturalizing, Suitable for cut flowers, Extended bloom season in Zones 9A and above. Heat Zone: 9-2.


Temperature Converter

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Seed - sow in mid spring or late summer to early autumn in a sunny border outdoors and only just cover the seed[200]. Autumn sown plants may require protection from frosts in cold winters[200]. The seed usually germinates in 2 - 3 weeks.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Eschscholzia californicaCalifornian PoppyPerennial0.3 6-11 FLMHNDM132

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

princesswazz   Sat Nov 8 14:11:50 2003

This is a great low border plant for me.If you find out like I did not to plant too many seeds at one time then your doing okay!Yeilds many seeds.

Graham Dunn   Wed Feb 14 2007

I wish to know who introduced the Eschscholzia Californica to America I know the Christian name is 5 letters and the Surname 7 letters. Can you help me with this question please?

Katarina Eriksson   Tue Mar 3 2009

The California Poppy is a native to the coast and inland of California, it was not introduced. I do not understand what you mean by a Christian name. Do you mean what the Spanish priests called it when they came to Calif.?

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