Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


Posts Tagged ‘escholzia’

Coastal California Poppies

Eschscholzia californica maritima & Escholzia californica

Eschscholzia californica maritima & Escholzia californica

I like this accidental side by side comparison of the coastal form of the California poppy, Eschscholzia californica maritima or Eschscholzia californica var. californica, and the regular California poppy, Eschscholzia californica. I put in the regular one two years ago and the coastal form last year. Both plants are perennial in our garden, so now we have both. I suppose growing together they could hybridize, but we deadhead pretty regularly and there are many blocks of houses and concrete between us and any “wild” land.

The regular poppy might be the better plant for most gardens–bigger and faster with larger blooms and that unique burnt-orange color–and it’s definitely more common in gardens, but the coastal one has its merits, too, and seems to be getting more popular. I say “regular” and “coastal,” but I’m pretty sure the coastal form is actually the native one for Richmond Annex where I live. In fact, the owner of Larner Seeds, where I got my seed, has a post on her blog that suggests that the prevalence of the more annual form around the Bay Area hills and throughout the state is the work of past generations of Boy Scouts, Sierra Clubbers, and other human seed dispersers, and that there used to be a lot more regional variance across the state. And apparently people are still doing it, James at Lost in the Landscape cites a recent re-gen project in the San Diego area that used the generic poppy instead of the locally native form.

The flowers of the coastal form have an interesting two-tone color, an orange interior fading to a bright lemony yellow on the outer parts of the petals, and they seem to vary a bit in size and coloring; the biggest coastal flowers are often as big as the smaller flowers on the annual form. In the wild I’ve mostly seen the coastal form looking like a woolly little blue-gray thing growing in dry mineral soil, but in the garden they get about a foot tall, and they’ve been quite willing to cover themselves in blooms during the spring and then keep producing sporadic blooms throughout the summer. Their small size works best for our small garden, so we’re thinking of pulling the regular ones this year, and going down to just the single form, the coastal one.

Escholzia californica maritima, coastal Cal poppy

Eschscholzia californica maritima, coastal Cal poppy