California Poppy

Scientific Name: Eschscholzia californica

Fact Box:

  • Order: Ranunculales
  • Family: Papaveraceae
  • Genus: Eschscholzia
  • Species: E. californica


With golden-orange blooms, the California poppy has bluish-green leaves that resemble fern leaves. Each green stem is topped with four silky-smooth petals that open and close accordingly with the sunlight. At night and on cloudy days, the petals will curl together into a “stick.” Native to the American Pacific coast, these poppies prefer well-drained soil and will often suffer from diseases or die when too moist.


What is Eschscholzia? This genus name has quite an interesting origin story. In the 1800s, a German botanist discovered the California poppy while on an exploring journey aboard a ship. He decided to name the flower after the surgeon on the ship, whose last name was Eschscholtz. However, he left out the “t” in the name on accident, resulting in Eschscholzia.


The California poppy has many medical uses, curing disorders and diseases such as insomnia, depression, as well as liver problems. It can relax the nervous system, which also lessens physical pains. In the past, Native Americans ate the plants and used oils extracted from them.


In 1903, this poppy became the state flower of California, and April 6 is known as California Poppy Day. Aside from the common orange and yellow colors, some varieties have pink, white, or multi-colored flowers. Another fun fact about the California poppy: in honor of her Californian origins, Megan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, had the California poppy embroidered on her wedding veil.