California Poppy

California Poppy

Eschscholzia californica

California Poppy is a perfect medicinal plant for the novice Colorado gardener.  A native to California, and the state flower of California, E. californica thrives in hot sun and dry soil of Colorado.  In the Sierra Mountains of California, this plant is king.  Whole hillsides of California Poppy, Lupine and other native wildflowers turn the landscape into a real-life Monet masterpiece. 

As Spanish explorersapproached the shores of California, they saw an ocean of poppies in full bloom along the coastal hillsides. Perhaps this is why they nicknamed the coast "Land of Fire." They referred to the orange flowers as "copa de oro", or Cup of Gold.  And the Native American Tribes they encountered after making landfall, knew the benefits of this plant.  This plant wasn't just revered for its beauty, it was medicine.  Tribes throughout the Sierras used California Poppy to promote calmness and healthy sleep.  Also as an analgesic, for mild pains such as headache and toothache. Important to note, this plant medicine was (and is) considered safe for children. 

A medicinal preparation of California Poppy is helpful during times of restlessness and anxiety.  Unlike other poppy plants,  especially Oriental Poppy, E. californica contains no opiates, therefore it is non-addictive and safe for kids.  A tea or tincture is very bitter, but this bitter taste is quite beneficial for digestion. 

Family: Papaveraceae

Parts Used: Aerial parts

Constituents: isoquinoline alkaloids (similar to opium poppy, yet milder and non-addictive)

Actions: Relaxing nervine, hypnotic, anti-spasmodic, analgesic.  Cooling and bitter.

Medicinal Use: anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, headache, toothache.  Spastic conditions of the GI, Respiratory, Urinary tracts.  Promotes digestion.

Preparation: 1:2 extract of Fresh Plant 15-25 drops 3x a day.  Dry herb: Standard infusion 2-4 oz

Cautions:  Not safe for pregnant women.  Do not mix with other sedatives and anti-depressant drugs. 

Tips for growing California Poppy:

Prefers sandy, well drained soil.  Full sun.

Scatter seeds throughout your garden bed in April-May.  Then lightly rake them into the soil.

Keep area moist but not drenched.

Germination and growth will depend on Colorado's weather and soil temperature

California poppy flowers will open wide during full sun, and close at night or on cloudy days.

Remove spent blossoms to encourage a second bloom.

To harvest for medicine, harvest aerial parts.