Monday, June 13, 2011

Matilija poppy update

Just last week I posted a blurb about the matilija poppy, a stunning shrub native to Southern California. I don’t typically write about the same plant twice in such a short period of time, but I just found a few more clumps near our house that are in full bloom. Since the flowers are at their absolute peak right now, I simply have to post these photos. Please bear with me and/or change the channel—I won’t hold a grudge. At least not for long.

These particular clumps are adjacent to a park and public tennis courts and must have been planted by the City of Davis. I’m very pleased that an obvious effort was made to use native plants appropriate for our climate.

Since these plants are on top of a slope, drainage is perfect. Matilija poppy prefers dry, sunny spots and cannot tolerate wet feet.

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Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri) adjacent to Walnut Park in South Davis
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There are several large clumps in this location

Romneya coulteri is indeed in the poppy family (Papaveraceae), so it is related both to the California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) and to the oriental (Papaver orientale) and opium poppy (Papaver somniferum).

The petals are like chiffon—they weight next to nothing and flutter in the slightest breeze.

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A few interesting tidbits to prepare you for a stint on Jeopardy!: Matilija poppy has the largest flowers of any California native. It was nominated as the California state flower in 1890 but lost to the California poppy, which still holds that title today.

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