California Poppy

California Poppy

Eschscholzia californica

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Other names: Golden Poppy, Cup of Gold, and California Sunlight
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: No
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used:
  • Side Effects: Do not use in pregnancy
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About California Poppy

California poppy is a vibrant flowering perennial/annual plant that is characterized by truly orange flowers. Its lively color reminds us of the golden sunrays, earning it the names like Golden Poppy, cup of gold, and California sunlight.

The flowers of California poppy stand unaccompanied on lonesome stems, having silky petals that are arranged in four. Its leaves appear in the lobed segment in divided portions. The petals of California poppy follow the ritual of closing at night to open once again to see the sun of the next morning.

California poppy is acclaimed as the medicinal plant in the world of herbalism due to a plethora of benefits. It serves as sedative and aids in the treatment of insomnia, nervous agitation, and promotes relaxation. It also helps in treating both acute and chronic liver and bladder diseases. Moreover, California poppy is considered one of the best natural treatments for bed-wetting issues in children.

Various chemical analysis of California poppy shows that possesses californidine, caryachine, escholtzine,  N-methyllaurotetanine, O-methylcaryachine, and the pavine alkaloid.

Growing

California poppy can be of great value to any garden as it contributes to impart lively ambiance in a dull place. They are started with seed according to the USDA growing zones.

California poppy is both indoor and outdoor-friendly. For indoor plantation, the seeds are sown in a pot at least 2 weeks before the expected last spring frost date. For outdoor plantation, the seeds are subjected to the beds after all the chances of frost have departed. Usually, early fall (before the ground freezes) is considered as the best time for sowing seeds in 6+ zones.

California poppy grows easily in an average draining soil, can be sandy or loamy. The soil must be kept moist but not wet to facilitate the sprouting, but after that, when the small tendrils come out of the ground, they do not like to be disturbed much. Gentle water sprays work just fine for further growth of the poppy.

California poppy seeds are really quick to germinate within 10 to 15 days and in around 70 days, the plant gets mature. The plant steps into its blooming phase in spring and does so till summer to invite the eagerly waiting pollinating insects: bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

After pollination, the plant undergoes a series of changes to form a slender capsule-like fruit that is capable of exploding to disperse its black seeds for the propagation of plant.

Harvesting

California poppy is ready for the harvest when the plant is at the peak of its blooming phase, i.e. in spring and early summers.

The aerial parts of the California poppy are harvested with the help of a sharp pair of garden shears.

California poppy can be used fresh or they can be dried to enjoy their presence even if it is not the part of the season. The stems, leaves, and flowers are left to dry in the shade until they produce a crispy sound when touched.

Usage

California poppy makes the West coast famous due to acres of meadows are devoted to it; washed with bright golden flowers. Herbalists around the world are using this poppy to make various preparations.

  • Tincture - Infuse freshly chopped California Poppy flowers/leaves/stems in grain alcohol for 4 to 6 weeks. Strain the liquid and place it in a dark and dry place.
  • Tea - Dried California poppy flowers and tops are used to make a tea.
  • Decoction - Dried or fresh California poppy tops are decocted to make an analgesic decoction.
  • Salve - California poppy oil is employed in the formulation of salve. 
  • Infused oil - Dried California poppy aerial parts are simmered in a carrier oil for an hour and strained to yield poppy infused oil.