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May 22, 2020
A couple of weeks ago I came across a flower at the botanic garden that I was not familiar with. It was planted in the rose garden but obviously was not a rose. It was rather striking due to its large size, heavily crinkled white petals, and the bright yellow center. Typically, when I encounter something new and interesting in a public garden, I’ll look for a name tag. I didn’t see one, but I took a few shots of the flower to remind me to try and figure out what it was.
Two weeks later I returned to the same garden and found a massive planting of these plants in full bloom in a different area. I found the sign, and at last I knew what these were. Dear reader, let me introduce you to the Matilija poppy shown above, AKA the “fried egg flower.” If you want to be scientific about it, then it is the Romneya coulteri.
This was a surprise as it was unlike any other poppy I had seen before. Since I’m almost a California native, I know that our state flower is the well known and loved California poppy. What I did not know was that back in 1890 there was a beauty contest of sorts to decide on our state flower. Guess what I learned: the Matilija poppy was a runner up in that competition, along with the Mariposa lily.
According to a gardening article I found, these plants are native to chaparral and coastal sage scrub habitats, primarily from Santa Barbara County south into Baja, including San Diego County. The plants have multiple upright stalks, 6 to 8-feet tall, thicker than a finger, and clothed in fringed blue-green leaves.
I hope you find this new discovery interesting, and I’ll plan to share more of these new finds in the future. Be sure to subscribe so that you don’t miss out on future blog posts.
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