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Happy California Poppy Day!

Not many people know but April 6 is designated as California Poppy Day… so, to celebrate the official flower of the great state of California we salute the Poppy!

You may have noticed that Eschscholzia californica is pictured on welcome signs along highways entering California and official Scenic Route signs. It was selected as the state flower by the California State Floral Society in December 1890, besting the Mariposa lily (genus Calochortus) and the Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri) by a wide margin, but the state legislature did not make the selection official until 1903. Its golden blooms were deemed a fitting symbol for the Golden State.

The Poppy is a perennial or annual plant growing to 5–60 in tall with alternately branching glaucous blue-green foliage. The flowers are solitary on long stems, silky-textured, with four petals, each petal 2 to 6 cm or 0.79 to 2.36 in long and broad.  Flower color ranges through yellow, orange and red (even with some pinks). Flowering occurs from February to September in the northern hemisphere (spring, summer, autumn).

It's petals close at night (or in cold, windy weather) and open again the following morning, although they may remain closed in cloudy weather. The fruit is a slender, dehiscent capsule 1 to 3.5 in long, which splits in two to release numerous small black or dark brown seeds. It survives mild winters in its native range, dying completely in colder climates.

With the wet season having been such a success the poppy fields in California have had a record number of petal peepers this year, if you choose to hit the fields to see this glorious show always remember to stay on the trails as to not hurt our very delicate friend.