Mexican Gold Poppy (Papaveraceae (Poppy family) Eschscholtzia californica; subsp. mexicana) Type Icon

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Alternate names Desert Gold Poppy
Spanish name Amapola del Campo
Size Height: 4 - 24 in. (10 - 45 cm).
Habitat Open gravelly and sandy desert slopes.
Identification Mexican Gold Poppy is a native annual that grows in dense patches. It's commonly found blooming on the limestone slopes of mountains in southern New Mexico and the western tip of Texas in March and April. Each yellow-orange blossom has four petals that grow singly at the end of slender stalks. A slender, green cover (calyx) encloses the flower petals until bloom. The blue-green foliage is fern-like. It is a close relative to the California poppy.
Flowers Various shades of yellow and orange. There are four petals and can be 1 to 2 in. (2.5 - 5 cm) across. Petals are covered by a cone-shaped cap that is pushed off when the petals expand. Bloom from March to May.
Fruit Seeds are inside a long, narrow, capsule-shaped fruit 2 - 3 in. (5 - 7 cm) long.
Seeds Round, black and tiny. As small as sand grains.
Hardiness Zone: 7, 8, 9, 10.
Water needs Watering during bloom season will help extend blooming time.
How to grow Grow from seeds in fall to ensure spring flowering. Planting two years in a row will establish plant as a perennial. Needs well-draining soil and full sun.
Uses A real showoff in the spring, poppies are a dramatic accent plant.
Cultural references Native Americans cooked the foliage as greens. The juice of the root was used as a painkiller for toothaches.
Factoids The flowers only open on bright, sunny days. They close up every afternoon before the sun descends and on cloudy or windy days. The presence of poppies usually indicates that there has been normal to above-normal rainfall the winter previous.

References : Art, H. W. (1990). The wildflower gardener's guide. Pownal, VT: Storey Communications, Inc.; Jaeger, E. C. (1940). Desert wild flowers. Stanford University, CA: Stanford University Press.; Loughmiller, C. & Loughmiller, L. (1984). Texas wildflowers. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.; Spellenberg, R. (1979). The Audubon Society field guide to North American wildflowers: Western region. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.; Wasowski, S. & Wasowski, A. (1988). Native Texas plants. Austin, TX: Texas Monthly Press.; Photograph: 1) G. Morris Southward; 2) Justin Van Zee.