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Common Name: Californian Poppy
Eschscholzia californica is a perennial plant that can grow up to 0.30 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine
No records of toxicity have been seen but this species belongs to a family that contains many poisonous plants. Some caution is therefore advised.
Western N. America - Washington to California and Nevada. A frequent garden escape in Britain.
Grassy open places to 2000 metres in California[
Prefers a poor sandy soil and a sunny position[
] but is easily grown in an ordinary garden soil[
]. Succeeds in a hot dry position. Plants grow well in maritime climates[
A very ornamental plant, it is commonly grown in the flower garden and there are many named varieties[
]. This plant is the state flower of California[
]. Although a perennial it is usually quite short-lived and is more often grown as an annual in this country[
]. It can tolerate temperatures down to about -10°c, however, and often survives mild winters[
]. If the dead flowers are removed before they set seed the plant will continue flowering for a longer period[
A polymorphic species[
Plants resent root disturbance and should be sown in situ[
The flowers are very attractive to bees[
]. They close during wet or overcast weather[
Plants often self-sow if the soil is disturbed by some means such as hoeing[
Leaves - cooked[
]. This plant is in a family that contains many poisonous plants so some caution is advised in using it.
The Californian poppy is a bitter sedative herb that acts as a diuretic, relieves pain, relaxes spasms and promotes perspiration[
]. The whole plant is harvested when in flower and dried for use in tinctures and infusions[
]. It is taken internally in the treatment of nervous tension, anxiety, insomnia and incontinence (especially in children)[
The watery sap is mildly narcotic and has been used to relieve toothache[
]. It is similar in its effect to the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) but is much milder in its action and does not depress the central nervous system[
]. Another report says that it has a markedly different effect upon the central nervous system, that it is not a narcotic but tends to normalize psychological function[
]. Its gently antispasmodic, sedative and analgesic actions make it a valuable herbal medicine for treating physical and psychological problems in children[
]. It may also prove beneficial in attempts to overcome bedwetting, difficulty in sleeping and nervous tension and anxiety[
An extract of the root is used as a wash on the breasts to suppress the flow of milk in lactating females[
Seed - sow in mid spring or late summer to early autumn in a sunny border outdoors and only just cover the seed[
]. Autumn sown plants may require protection from frosts in cold winters[
]. The seed usually germinates in 2 - 3 weeks.