“Look around, look around at how lucky we are…!” – Hamilton
Today, April 6, is California Poppy Day. Those of us who grew up in California know that when we see poppies starting to bloom, spring is here. Driving up the coast or hiking in the hills, orange is everywhere. Having learned in my SoCal elementary school (way back in the day) that it is our state flower, the sight of poppies always gives me a great sense of pride for “my” beautiful state, California.
The California poppy, with its bright orange and gold colors, generally opens only in bright sun and represents California well: California’s beautiful orange sunsets; California’s gold rush; our very own Orange County. The color orange is composed of equal parts of red (energy) and yellow (happiness). And while many outside of California might think of us as a little laid-back, I’d like to think, living in this wonderful place, we simply have a great balance of energy and happiness.
Even its many names give homage to the California poppy’s brightness and light: golden poppy, California sunlight, and copa de oro (cup of gold).
So it wasn’t a surprise that back in 1890 when the California State Floral Society held an election to determine California’s state flower, the California poppy was a home run winner over the other two beautiful flowers in the running: the matilija poppy and the mariposa lily. In 1903, the California legislature officially named the California poppy our state flower.
And, even before that “official” proceeding, local Native Americans, keenly sensitive to their land, knew the value of the poppies. They used the plant parts in various ways to alleviate aches and pains and as an anti-anxiety remedy.
It should be noted that although the California poppy is a distant cousin to the opium poppy, the California Poppy contains no opiates. WebMD states the California poppy contains chemicals that may cause relaxation.
Where do we see them?
California poppies grow in southern California, of course, as well as desert areas such as the Mojave Desert. They are seen as far north as southern Washington and as far south as Baja, Mexico.
When do we see them?
While usually the biggest bloom is in the spring, California poppies can flower from February through September, sometimes longer, depending on the weather and rain.
What are those things?
The California poppy plant has green-grey leaves. The flower buds under calyx cap. The calyx cap lifts off as the flower blossoms, exposing a furled flower ready to open. The California poppy closes, as a defense mechanism, if it becomes cloudy, opening again to the sun. How California cool is that!?! And, if you’re wondering what that longer “bud” (not really a bud) is, it is the poppy’s seed pod.
The California poppy lives up to its sunshine hype. “Look Around, Look Around…” Find a field of them and it will surely give you happiness and energy.