Matilija Poppies

Matilija Poppy (Romneya coulteri)

The wildflowers are bloommin’ out there right now and Matilija poppies are poppin’. I snapped this iPhone photo at Santa Barbara’s Oak Park yesterday afternoon.

According to eFloras.org, a cooperative project by Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO and Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA:

“Romneya coulteri shares with Hibiscus lasiocarpos the distinction of having the largest flowers of any plant native to California.”

In 1890, the California State Floral Society held a vote to select an official state flower. Members chose between three flowers: Eschscholzia californica, the California poppy, Romneya coulteri, the Matilija poppy, and Calochortus, or the Mariposa lily. The California poppy won. The Matilija poppy, then called the giant poppy, received zero votes. (Cal State University Pomona)

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4 Responses to Matilija Poppies

  1. Nico says:

    Great shot, definitely a favorite CA native wildflower. Driving up Hwy 33 this weekend, I spied a few patches in bloom along the side of the road amidst the bush lupine and invasive broom.

    Interestingly, for how beautiful the Matilija Poppies are, they’re surprisingly difficult to work with and grow. They have very sensitive roots and don’t handle transplanting very well. They also spread by rhizomes making them difficult to manage. We have some in our front yard that keep springing up in inopportune places from a long ago removed cluster. Every few weeks, a couple of new shoots start popping up amidst the bunch grasses we planted; I guess we didn’t remove all the remnants of roots still in the ground. If I could just relocate them, I’d be happy to keep them… but I don’t want them taking over my yard!

    • Jack Elliott says:

      It’s interesting how hardy and aggressive they are when in a spot they like, but at the same time how fragile and finicky they can be when growing at home.

  2. I’d never heard of this species, but it looks like a super-sized version of a wildflower that’s flowering in central Texas now, the white prickly poppy:

    http://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/white-prickly-poppy/

    http://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/symphony-in-white/

    Thanks for making me aware of this California species.

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