Great Ecology Congratulates Paul Zofnass on his EBJ Lifetime Achievement AwardMarch 25, 2021
Celebrating California Poppy Day
Author: Liz Clift
Okay, so the world is full of obscure holidays, and today is certainly one of them. April 6 is California poppy Day. The holiday was established in 2010—and was imagined primarily as an educational opportunity. Schools, and other educational organizations, are encouraged to use the day to plan activities and exercises that focus on the flower and other native plants. But if that’s not enough, there’s an entire poppy week in May (13th – 18th each year). So, what makes this plant special?
California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) were designated California’s state flower on March 2, 1903. Its native habitat includes California (naturally), as well as Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and parts of Baja California.
It’s also somewhat responsive to its habitat. Its showy orange (although sometimes red, yellow, or even pink) petal will open on warm and sunny days, and close at night or on cool, windy days. It might even keep its petals closed on cloudy days! These plants are drought-tolerant and self-seeding and generally prefer to grow in sunny areas with sandy, well-drained soils or loamy soils.
While California poppy used to be incredibly widespread across the state, appearing in vast fields, these areas have largely disappeared. However, significant fields of California poppies can be seen in Antelope Valley (Los Angeles County), Bear Valley (Colusa County), and Point Buchon (San Luis Obispo County). When most of the flowers are in bloom, larger fields appear “carpeted” in blossoms. So set some time aside this spring and head out in search of the California poppy - you won't regret it!