Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

California Poppy - Eschscholzia californica


Eschscholzia californica is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6. It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees. It is noted for attracting wildlife. [PFAF]
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.[PFAF]

General Perennial herb.[IFBC][E-flora] Hairless [WildPNW]
Flowers "Flowers usually solitary. atop long stalks;" [WildPNW] saucer-shaped flowers[IFBC][E-flora] Yellow or deep orange, or rarely white. [HNW] Shiny. [PSW]
Fruits Capsules. Seeds; "strongly ridged in a net-veined pattern".[IFBC][E-flora]
Leaves "Basal leaves blue-green, blades triangular, 3-times divided in threes".[IFBC][E-flora]
Stem Erect or sometimes spreading.[HNW]
Root A single [WildPNW] deep taproot.[IFBC][E-flora]
Properties The whole plant is bitter and cooling.[Tilgner HMHE]
Habitat "Dry roadsides, rock outcrops and waste places".[IFBC] [E-flora] Fields. [PSW]
Range "Infrequent on SE Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and adjacent mainland"[IFBC] [E-flora] "Western N. America - Washington to California and Nevada. A frequent garden escape in Britain." [PFAF] "Its native habitat includes California, extending to Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Sonora and northwest Baja California.[2]" "...widely naturalized in Australia, and was introduced to South Africa, Chile, and Argentina." [Wiki]
Status Exotic.[IFBC][E-flora]
Notes "A highly variable species."[HNW]



Other Uses

Medicinal Uses

  • Whole Plant: "Harvested when in flower and dried for use in tinctures and infusions[238]. It is taken internally in the treatment of nervous tension, anxiety, insomnia and incontinence (especially in children)[238]." [PFAF] "The Californian poppy is a bitter sedative herb that acts as a diuretic, relieves pain, relaxes spasms and promotes perspiration[238]." [PFAF]
  • Root: "An extract of the root is used as a wash on the breasts to suppress the flow of milk in lactating females[207, 257]." [PFAF]
  • Watery Sap: "Mildly narcotic and has been used to relieve toothache[238]. 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[238]." [PFAF]


    Dosages: "1 tsp dry root and/or herb/cup water 2-3 x/day; 30-40 drops tincture 2-3 x/day (WAF)" [HMH Duke] "Infusion: (Whole plant) 1-2 teaspoons per cup of water; or 1: 1 fresh liquid extract: 20-60 drops 1-4 times per day." [Tilgner HMHE]

    "Unlike opioids or even the stronger acting Poppy species, Rudolf Weiss states that the effect of California Poppy is towards “…establishing equilibrium,” and is not at all narcotic (1988, 289)." [Todd] Another report says that it causes "A mild marijuana-like high that lasts for about a half hour. It is not related to the opium poppy, but apparently does contain several psychoactive alkaloids." [EHMEFD]
    Dosage: "One joint per day — smoking more does not seem to extend or intensify the high. The leaves and petals are dried and rolled into joints." [EHMEFD]


    • Analgesic (1; CRC; EFS; HHB); [HMH Duke]
    • Antispasmodic (1; BRU; CRC; PH2; WAM); [HMH Duke][Tilgner HMHE]
    • Anxiolytic (1; BRU; PH2; WAM); [HMH Duke]
    • Calmative (in small doses) (1; WAM); [HMH Duke]
    • Diaphoretic (f; CRC); [HMH Duke]
    • Diuretic (f; CRC); [HMH Duke]
    • Hypnotic [Tilgner HMHE]
    • Emetic (f; DEM); [HMH Duke]
    • Lactifuge (f; DEM); [HMH Duke]
    • Narcotic (1; CRC; DEM); [HMH Duke] "much milder than those of opium poppy."[Tilgner HMHE]
    • Nervine - gentle.[Tilgner HMHE]
    • Piscicide (f; CRC); [HMH Duke]
    • Poison (f; DEM); [HMH Duke]
    • Sedative (1; BRU; PHR; WAM); [HMH Duke][Tilgner HMHE]
    • Soporific (1; CRC; EFS; PH2); [HMH Duke]
    • Uterotonic (1; CRC; HHB; KOM). [HMH Duke]



    • (-)-ALPHA-CANADINE Root 129ppm [23580]
    • (-)-ALPHA-CANADINE-METHOHYDROXIDE Root 129ppm [23579 HHB]
    • (-)-CARYACHINE Shoot [23595]
    • (-)-NORARGEMONINE Root 50ppm [23609]
    • ALKALOIDS Plant 600-2900ppm [QRNM:256.1996]
    • ALKALOIDS Root 27000ppm [QRNM:256.1996]
    • ALLOCRYPTOPINE Plant [23586]
    • ALLOCRYPTOPINE Shoot 260ppm [23595 23594 23601 23607]
    • ALLOCRYPTOPINE Seed [23608]
    • BERBERINE Shoot [HHB][DukePhyt] (protoberberine group of isoquinoline alkaloids)
    • BISNORARGEMONINE Plant [ALK 23577]
    • BISNORARGEMONINE Shoot [23595]
    • BISNORARGEMONINE Root 80ppm [23609]
    • CALIFORNIDINE Plant [23586]
    • CALIFORNIDINE Shoot 1900ppm [23595 PM57:A99 23594 23601]
    • CALIFORNIDINE Root 42-46.5ppm [23579 23580]
    • CALIFORNINE Shoot 130ppm [23578 ALK 23604]
    • CHELERYTHRINE Leaf [ALK 19448] [DukePhyt] (benzophenanthridine alkaloid)
    • CHELERYTHRINE Shoot [23594 23595 23601]
    • CHELERYTHRINE Seed [19448]
    • CHELERYTHRINE Tissue Culture 4-100ppm [23603 23587]
    • CHELERYTHRINE Plant [23586 23610]
    • CHELERYTHRINE Root [19448]
    • CHELILUTINE Root [ALK] [DukePhyt] (quaternary benzo[c]phenanthridine alkaloids)
    • CHELILUTINE Tissue Culture [23592]
    • CHELILUTINE Shoot [23595]
    • CHELIRUBINE Shoot [23595]
    • CHELIRUBINE Tissue Culture 11.5ppm [23582 23592 23599]
    • CODEINE Plant [ALK]
    • COPTISINE Leaf [19448]
    • COPTISINE Root [ALK 19448]
    • COPTISINE Stem [19448]
    • CORYDINE Shoot [23595]
    • CORYTUBERINE Shoot 6ppm [23595]
    • CRYPTOPINE Shoot [ALK]
    • DIHYDROCHELERYTHRINE Tissue Culture [23582 23606]
    • DIHYDROCHELILUTINE Tissue Culture [23582]
    • DIHYDROCHELIRUBINE Tissue Culture 19.6ppm [23582 23606]
    • DIHYDROMACARPINE Tissue Culture 27ppm [23582 23598 23606] [DukePhyt] (A benzophenanthridine alkaloid)
    • DIHYDROSANGUINARINE Plant [JBH] [DukePhyt] (A benzophenanthridine alkaloid)
    • DIHYDROSANGUINARINE Tissue Culture 4.3ppm [23582 23606]
    • ESCHOLAMIDINE Shoot 20ppm [23595]
    • ESCHOLIDINE Root 422-791ppm [23579 23580 HHB] [DukePhyt] (quaternary tetrahydroprotoberberine alkaloid)
    • ESCHOLINE Root [ALK]
    • ESCHOLININE Root 116-186ppm [23579 23580 HHB][DukePhyt] (benzyltetrahydroisoquinoline alkaloid)
    • ESCHSCHOLTZIDINE Plant 11 [23577 ALK]
    • ESCHSCHOLTZINE Flower 150.4 [23581]
    • ESCHSCHOLTZINE Shoot 300 [23595 23594 23607 23601]
    • ESCHSCHOLTZINE Plant [23586 23576]
    • ESCHSCHOLTZINE Seed [23608]
    • ESCOLZINE Shoot [PM57:A99]
    • ISOCORYDINE Shoot [23595 23607]
    • GLAUCINE Plant [ALK]
    • HUNNEMANINE Plant [23591]
    • MACARPINE Shoot [23595] [DukePhyt] (A benzophenanthridine alkaloid)
    • MACARPINE Tissue Culture 7-23ppm [23582 23587 23599 23598]


    • MAGNOFLORINE Root 93ppm [23579] [DukePhyt] (aporphine alkaloid)
    • MAGNOFLORINE Shoot [23595]
    • MORPHINE Plant [ALK]
    • NORSANGUINARINE Plant [23591]
    • PROTOPINE Plant [23586 23610] [DukePhyt] (a benzylisoquinoline alkaloid)
    • PROTOPINE Seed [23608]
    • PROTOPINE Shoot 30-150ppm [23595 23578 23594 ALK 23601]
    • PROTOPINE Root [23609]
    • SANGUINARINE Leaf [19448] [DukePhyt] (a benzophenanthridine alkaloid)
    • SANGUINARINE Seed [19448]
    • SANGUINARINE Plant [23586 23610]
    • SANGUINARINE Root [19448]
    • SANGUINARINE Shoot [PM57:A99 23594 23601 23595]
    • SANGUINARINE Tissue Culture 1.4-60ppm [23603 23587 23582 23599]
    • SANGUINARINE Stem [19448]
    • SANGUIRITRINE Root [23596]

    Other Chemicals

    • 10-HYDROXYCHELERYTHRINE Tissue Culture 4ppm [23582]
    • 10-HYDROXYSANGUINARINE Tissue Culture 50.5ppm [23582]
    • 12-HYDROXYCHELIRUBINE Tissue Culture 137ppm [23582]
    • 2',4'-DIHYDROXY-7-METHOXYISOFLAVONE Plant [23583]
    • 2'-METHOXYFORMONONETIN Plant [23583]
    • ANTHERAXANTHIN Flower [JBH] [DukePhyt] (bright yellow accessory pigment)
    • BETA-HOMOCHELIDONINE Plant [23610]
    • BETA-SITOSTEROL Plant [14077][DukePhyt] (phytosterols)
    • DL-CHEILANTHIFOLINE Plant [23591]
    • ESCHSCHOLTZINE-N-OXIDE Flower 203.5 [23581]
    • ESCHSCHOLTZIONE Plant [23610]
    • ESHOLINE Root 143 [23580]
    • FUMARIC-ACID Plant [HHB]
    • FUMARINE Plant [CRC]
    • HCN Root [CRC]
    • IONIDINE Plant [ALK]
    • LAUROSCHOLTZINE Seed [23608]
    • N-METHYL-LAUROTETANINE Shoot 80ppm [23595 23601 23607]
    • NORARGEMONINE Shoot [23595]
    • NORISOARGEMONINE Shoot [23595]
    • O-MEHTYL-CARYACHINE Shoot [23594]
    • O-METHYL-CARATACHINE Plant [23586]
    • QUERCITRIN Plant [23583] [DukePhyt] (glycoside)
    • RUTIN Flower 5000-50000ppm [CRC QRNM:256.1996 14739] [DukePhyt] (glycoside)
    • RUTIN Inflorescence [20718]
    • TRIGLOCHININ Leaf [23605][DukePhyt] (cyanogenic glucoside)
    • VIOLAXANTHIN Flower [HHB JBH] [DukePhyt] (orange color, xanthophyll pigmen)
    • XANTHOPHYLL Plant [HHB][DukePhyt] (yellow pigments, oxygenated carotenoids)
    • ZEAXANTHIN Plant [HHB] [DukePhyt] (carotenoid alcohols)


    • CHOLESTROL Plant [14077]
    • FAT Seed 468000ppm [CRC]
    • PROTEIN Seed 250000ppm [CRC]

    ppm = parts per million; tr = trace [DukePhyt] All the above phytochemical information except chemical types are from [Dukephyt]


    "Prefers a poor sandy soil and a sunny position[108, 200] but is easily grown in an ordinary garden soil[1]. Succeeds in a hot dry position. Plants grow well in maritime climates[200]. A very ornamental plant, it is commonly grown in the flower garden and there are many named varieties[200]. This plant is the state flower of California[207]. Although a perennial it is usually quite short-lived and is more often grown as an annual in this country[187, 238]. It can tolerate temperatures down to about -10°c, however, and often survives mild winters[187]. If the dead flowers are removed before they set seed the plant will continue flowering for a longer period[188]. A polymorphic species[71]. Plants resent root disturbance and should be sown in situ[200]. The flowers are very attractive to bees[108]. They close during wet or overcast weather[238]. Plants often self-sow if the soil is disturbed by some means such as hoeing[200]." [PFAF]


    "Seed - sow in mid spring or late summer to early autumn in a sunny border outdoors and only just cover the seed[200]. Autumn sown plants may require protection from frosts in cold winters[200]. The seed usually germinates in 2 - 3 weeks." [PFAF]


    Papaveracea - Poppy Family

    Annual, perennial herb; sap colorless or orange.
    Leaf: basal or basal and cauline, 1–4-pinnate-dissected, segments narrow.
    Inflorescence: cyme, 1–many-flowered.
    Flower: receptacle funnel-shaped, tip cupped around ovary base, outer receptacle rim occasionally spreading; sepals 2, fused, shed as unit at flower; petals generally 4 (except doubled flowers), free, obovate or wedge-shaped, generally yellow to orange (white or pink), shed after flower leaving crown-like membrane (inner receptacle rim); stamens 12–many, free; carpels 2, style 0, stigma lobes 4–8, spreading, linear.
    Fruit: oblong, dehiscent from base.
    Seed: many, 1–2 mm, round to ovate, net-ridged, prominent-discontinuous-ridged, or minutely pitted, tan, brown, or black.
    12 species: western North America. (J.F.G. von Eschscholtz, Russian surgeon, botanist, 1793–1831)[Jepson]

    Local Species;

    1. Eschscholzia californica - California poppy [E-flora][PCBC][TSFTK]

    Eschscholzia sp., California Poppy ·

    Eschscholzia parishii (Parish's Goldenpoppy)


    Page last modified on Friday, February 11, 2022 10:56 AM