Thursday, 10 December 2009

California Poppies

The State of California has such a beautiful State Flower: the California Poppy.

I have always been attracted to the shade of orange found in the California Poppy -- they are also found in shades of white, cream and yellow -- but this "orange" shade is my favourite. Drawing the flowers required that I "mix" my colours until I had just the right shade and I enjoyed that process very much. As many of you know, my two favourite colours are the shade of blue I often use for the robe of the Blessed Mother and the various shades of orange from bright orange to burnt sienna.

The Family name of these flowers is Papaveraceae, the Genus is Eschscholzia and the Species is Eschscholzia californica. The flower is native to the western North America from British Columbia/Oregon down to Sonora in Mexico. Depending on the temperature of a given area, they can be found blooming from February through September.

Interestingly, their petals close at night or in cold, windy weather and open again the next morning. They also may remain closed during the day when the sky is overcast. They produce small black or dark brown seeds (see below).

The poppy was named for a Russian botanist by the name of Johann Friedrich von Eschscholtz when it was first described in the early 1800's. The Russian ship Rurik made a scientific expedition along what would later be the coast of the State of California and presented the world with its first knowledge of the plants and animals found along the western shoreline of North America.

The poppy leaves were used medicinally by Native Americans and the pollen was used cosmetically. The seeds were used in cooking. Extract from the California Poppy acts as a mild sedative when smoked. The effect is far milder than the extract of the opium poppy which contains a different class of alkaloids.

This is one State Flower that is not at all endangered as it grows everywhere it is planted. In some areas it is even considered an invasive species. It is difficult to keep it from spreading, however, as its seeds often end up in the grain that is harvested in the far west, especially California.

As most of you already know, I have published my second book and it is available online through Blurb. If you go to and enter sallie cosby thayer in the search box, you will be taken to my books: Rosary Icons, Stations Icons and The Rosary Icons. These can be purchased now through Blurb.

Peace be with you.

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