Flora and Fauna of the San Jacintos: Golden Poppies

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Note: Photo is author’s personal photo

I’ve had this particular series for the blog planned for a long time.  Since I’ve set my novel(s) in the general area where I live and grew up, I reference a lot of the local flora and fauna in them in order to provide a better sense of place for the reader.  I thought it might be fun to do a few blog posts on the plants and animals I’ve put in my novel since many of them are native to California and the chaparral ecosystem and may not be familiar to many.  I’m calling it flora and fauna of the San Jacintos, since the San Jacintos are the mountain range where my novel is set, but the plants and animals I’ll be talking about aren’t limited to just the mountain ecosystems.

So it to begin the series, we’ll start with California’s most famous flower and the state flower: the golden poppy.  They are found outside of California, but are really most closely identified with the golden state.  I have to admit that these poppies are some of my most favorite flowers.  I think it’s the simplicity of them: several velvety orange petals are really all that make up the flower itself, but it’s charming even so.

It’s always a mood lifter to see a field of these when I’m out and about or even better, seeing them sprout along side the freeways.  Since they only bloom in summer, it can be a rare pleasure to see them and it’s always a sign that summer’s in full swing when the first poppies bloom.

These particular poppies cannot be used to make illicit drugs.  (Thank you to the golden poppy wikipedia article for telling me this and saving that particular search from being forever in my Google search history!)  The plants sprout ferny green leaves, followed by the golden blooms themselves, and then, once the blooms drop, grow seed pods to leave the seeds to overwinter until the nest summer.

These particular poppies I’m showing were planted by my daughter all along the base of her playhouse.  She found the seeds at the garden supply, and I couldn’t say no to planting our state’s most famous flower in our backyard.  They’ve died off now, but I suspect that under our soil, the seeds are waiting, and we’ll greet the poppies again next summer.

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