Eschscholzia Californica

Eschscholzia Californica

Eschscholzia Californica


Eschscholzia Californica (California poppy or gold poppy)




Eschscholzia californica (California poppy or gold poppy) is the state flower of California.  According the Department of Agriculture, the plant grows in the Spring, Summer, and Fall and reaches a height of about 1.2 feet at maturity. 


The seeds of the plant can produce sedative-like feelings, but the poppy falls into a different class of alkaloids than poppies used in strong narcotics. 

The USDA states that the Eschscholzia californica (California poppy or gold poppy) is an invasive species.  Currently, the plant is found in Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.  The plant is also found in six different parts of Canada. 


Legal Issues Connected to Eschscholzia californica (California poppy or gold poppy)


In some states, it is illegal to cut down the state flower regardless if it falls on public or private land.  However, it is not illegal to cut down the state flower in California unless it falls on public lands or along state or county roads. 


The law concerning the removal of the state flower, and any other plants for that matter, is referenced in California Penal Code Section 384a.  The penal code is paraphrased below:


“Every person who within the State of California willfully or negligently cuts, destroys, mutilates, or removes any tree or shrub, or fern or herb or build or cactus or flower, or huckleberry or redwood greens, or portion. . .growing upon state or county highway rights-of-way [excluding highway employees]. . .[or] growing upon public land or upon land not his or her own. . .is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine or not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than six months, or by both fine and imprisonment.”


In order to cut down and/or remove plants and tree from private property, the owner of the property must provide written and signed consent to the person removing the plants.  The same applies on public lands.  In order to remove plants along public highways or on public land, the person or entity must receive written consent from the government body. 


Medicinal Uses of Eschscholzia californica (California poppy or gold poppy)


According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, Native Americans have used the plant throughout history as a cosmetic, to kill lice, and even relieve mild pain and treat insomnia.  As of 2005, there were still pharmacological studies concerning the plant according to the Florida Museum of Natural History. 


The plant is still used as a recreational drug in some circles, and the federal government does not control the use of the plant.  As mentioned before, the plant does have relaxing qualities if ingested, but the effects are mild compared to pharmaceutical opiates. 









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