Poppy Identification: A perennial herb, with spreading stems, growing up to 2 feet tall. The leaves are divided many times into fine greenish- gray segments. Conspicuous flowers range in color from bright yellow to deep orange and have four petals and many stamens.
Family: Papaveraceae (Poppy family)
Flowers: April – August
Parts Used: Aerial parts
Habitat: A native of California and also the state flower. It grows in grassy areas and disturbed sites in the southwestern United States.
How to grow: Sow seeds in fall or early spring directly in the garden. Seeds should be planted 1/4 inch or less deep and take care not to dislodge seeds when watering. Water regularly to establish, and only an occasional deep watering is required thereafter. Germination will occur within 15 to 30 days. Optimum soil temperature for germination is 60°-70°. Plants are drought- tolerant and overwatering will cause the roots to rot. Fertilizing is usually not necessary and overfertilizing will cause an abundance of foliage with no flowers.
The plant in not suitable for the tropics, but will grow well in most other climates. It must have full sun and well-drained soil, but will tolerate poor soil.
History: Spanish explorers called the flower copa de oro, “cup of gold” or sometimes dormidera, which means, “the drowsy one” because the flowers close at dusk. The botanical name is in honor of Dr. J.F. Eschscholtz, a physician and naturalist, who came to explore California with the Russians in 1816 and 1824.
Native Indians used the green foliage as a vegetable and parts of the plant as a mild pain-killer.
Constituents: Califonidine, eschscoltzin, protopine, N-methyllaurotanin, allocryptopine, cheleryytrine and sanguinarine.
Medicinal Properties: Nervine, hypnotic, anti-spasmodic, anodyne.
Uses: Used for stress, anxiety, tension, neuralgia, incontinence ( especially in children), tachycardia, hypertension, colic, headache, and toothache.
California Poppy has the reputation of being non-addictive (compared to the Opium Poppy), though it is less powerful. It has been used effectively as a sedative, and also as a hypnotic for those cases when a spasmodic remedy is required.
It is used in treating sleeplessness and over excitability in children, acting as a sedative. It is a non-addictive alternative to the Opium Poppy.
Preparation and Dosages:
Fresh plant tincture, [1:2] 15 to 25 drops, up to 3 times a day.
Dry herb, standard infusion, 2 to 4 ounces.
Contraindications: The California Poppy should not be used in pregnancy due to the uterine stimulating effects from the alkaloid, cryptopine.