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Papaveraceae, Eschscholzia californica, California Poppy

October 30, 2010

E. californica, the California state flower. I took these photos on the hillside below my house where I’ve encouraged the species to establish by spreading seeds collected elsewhere on Mt. Tamalpais.

Extract from the California poppy acts as a mild sedative when smoked or used in tea, the Cahuilla used it primarily as a sedative for babies (Moerman, 1998). The effect is far milder than that of opium which contains a different class of alkaloids. A number of online sources sell the extract for intended use as a sedative; effective for children with excitability and sleeplessness; colic; and for gall-bladder colic. The genus is named after the surgeon Dr. J. F. Eschscholtz, who served as a naturalizt in the 1816 and 1824 Russian expeditions to the coast of the Pacific Northwest.

The Indians of California have used the golden poppy for medicinal and/or psychoatvie purposes since prehistoric times. Today, cultivation for pharmaceutical purposes occurs primarily in S. France.

The leaves, flowers, and fruits can be dried and smoked. To make a tea with sedative effects, add one to two heaping teaspoons of dried herbage to one cup of boiling water and allow to steep for thirteen minutes. The fresh fruits and leves can be chewed.

California Indians use the flowers, stalks and leaves primarily as a sedative for toothaches. They usually chew the fresh leaves. A decoction of the flowers is used to treat head lice. Indian women avoid using the poppy while pregnant. In N. Mexico the Golden Poppy is used in the same manner as opium (Papaver sominferum).

The psychoactive effects of the golden poppy are subtle. “Eschscholzia elevates the body’s oxygen supply and promotes teh absorption of vitamin A… When smoked, the leaves and flowers induce a mild state of euphoria, side effects are unknown…” (Bremness 1994, 250).

Return to species list.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 30, 2010 10:08:53 pm

    Beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing and come and visit me too soon.


  2. March 9, 2013 10:08:54 am

    Californian poppies grow really well here. The dry summers suit them and I will be planting them next spring

    • March 9, 2013 10:08:17 pm

      Nice. They’re just starting to bloom in California.

      • March 9, 2013 10:08:59 pm

        The idea is to plant things that go nuts on their own, that are hardy as heck and that keep on keeping on. Things like wild fennel, queen annes lace etc. for the bees and the beneficials, californian poppies and other extremely hardy annuals and lots of edible perennials like artichokes and sunchokes. Nothing touches sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes) and I want to plant swathes of them so that they go nuts on the boundary lines of the property along with canna lilies and day lilies…its a great researching adventure to find these hardy and worthwhile plants that just keep on keeping on no matter what you throw at them add horseradish, elderberries, comfrey…all different kinds of plants that the gardener with a smaller property would start twitching about…bamboo! Plant the lot, we have 4 acres to fill 😉

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