Mexican poppy mystery

This spring we had a profusion of California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) in the succulent bed along the driveway (1 2). I removed most of the regular orange poppies after they were done blooming but let the yellow- and red-flowering selections (‘White Linen’ and ‘Red Chief’) go to seed because I want more of them next year. After ‘White Linen’ and ‘Red Chief’ had dried up completely and their seed pods had popped open, they went in the yard waste pile as well.

Imagine my surprise when this little beauty started to flower last week:


It’s less than half the height of a regular California poppy, its leaves are much bluer, and the flower color is much more yellow than orange.


My best guess is that this is a Mexican poppy (Eschscholzia californica ssp. mexicana), a subspecies of the California poppy. Native to the U.S. Southwest and Mexico, it’s much smaller and has more graceful leaves than the California poppy. The flower color can range from orange to yellow and even white.


I’m not an expert so if you have any insight into what this might be, please post a comment.


In addition to what it is, there’s another mystery: How did it get here? The only seeds I sowed were the two named California poppy cultivars, ‘White Linen’ and ‘Red Chief’. Maybe Mexican poppy seeds had somehow snuck their way into the wrong seed package?


But why is it blooming now, happily and cheerfully, as if it were March or April?

So many unanswered questions from such an assuming plant!


  1. How interesting is that? It's lovely, can't help with ID though. You are way out of my zone knowledge, LOL

  2. They also appear here in summer. I have a couple new plants with a flower or two. If they can, they will.

  3. I saw some California poppies happily blooming away up in Sebastopol last week, so apparently some of them don't mind the late-season heat.

  4. I wonder if it came with one of the plants you just bought recently, and the seed got blown there shortly after, hmmm....

  5. Could have been in the seeds or perhaps a migrating bird. We always tell folks most weeds come in on the wind : ) But what a lovely little surprise. Being a native Californian I miss the poppies!

  6. Dropped in bird poop? I didn't plant any sunflowers this year, but two plants came up. The birds or squirrels must have "planted" them.


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