California’s State Flower: The California Poppy

With bright orange flowers and intricate blue-green leaves, the California poppy is a state flower showstopper.

Places to See California Poppies

Rancho San Antionio Circle

Rancho San Antonio County Park

California poppies are the state flower of California.

The gorgeous orange flower was granted its state flower designation in 1903. Because the California poppy is the state flower, it is illegal to pick them on property that you don’t own. However, you are free to plant its seeds and raise the live plant.

California also celebrates California Poppy Day each year on April 6th. On this holiday, California public schools are encouraged to teach kids about poppies and other wildflowers.

California poppies aren’t only found in California.

They are native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. They have also been introduced to other areas across the U.S.

California poppies are adaptable plants, making them able to live in very different environments. They can be found along coasts and are very common in the Mojave Desert.

California poppies have bright, orange flowers and intricate blue-green leaves.

Their flowers are composed of four petals, ranging from bright orange to yellow. Flowers may also have darker orange centers.

California poppies close their flowers at night and on cloudy days.

California poppies can detect light levels and adjust their petals to be open or closed depending on the light availability. If you see these flowers along the trails with petals clasped together, chances are it’s cloudy.

Purisima 13 Logo
California poppies along the trail at Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve.

Cool facts about California poppies:

  • California poppies were named by Russian explorers in 1816.
  • Poppies don’t make very good bouquet flowers – their petals fall off soon after the flower is picked.
  • California poppies are also known as “cups of flame” and “golden poppy”.

Resources to learn more:

Author: Taylor Crisologo

Taylor studied biology at Cornell University, where she worked with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology on projects ranging from breeding herring gulls off the coast of Maine to dancing lyrebirds in Australia’s Blue Mountains. When she’s not researching great places to experience Bay Area nature, you can find her birding or reading a book at home with her husband and their two indoor cats (Max and Penelope).

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