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California Poppy

Eschscholzia californica

Photo © by CatherineMunro

The beautiful image is hosted by Wikimedia and was taken by user CatherineMunro.

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ANNUAL HERB : In the Sonoran Desert great shows of this poppy are dependent on an abundance of winter rains during Nov-Feb. Most years a few spotty flowers can be found but in drought years narry a one.  Under favorable conditions outside of the Sonoran Desert California Poppy can grow as a perennial. 

LEAVES: Finely disected leaves appear compound and are glabrous (smooth, without texture/hairs).

RANGE : Upper and Lower Colorado Sonoran Desert particularly on flats and gentle bajada slopes. Texas to California and Mexico. Picacho Peak, Arizona is a well-known location to see great expanses of spring poppies after wet winters.

FLOWERS : Bright orange, five-petalled with numerous stames. Occasionally paler yellow or even white blooms. Blooming Feb-Apr.  The green sepals that cover the bloom before opening form a cap over the developing bud and are shed as a unit when the flower opens.

image hosted at the Wikimedia® Project

In the Sonoran Desert the mexicana subspecies is more likely to be encountered. Specimens similar to the one at left are more likely in wildflower gardens and as part of roadside wildflower seeding projects.

Papaveraceae -- Poppy Family

More Information:

Sonoran Desert Field Guide
Sonoran Desert Places
Sonoran Desert Naturalist Home Page


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2009