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California Natives

California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)

This beautiful golden-orange flower, the California poppy, is a flower I have been coming across over and over again. When starting to think about what flower I want to do this blog post about, I noticed a beautiful California poppy right outside my apartment. Ever since I took that first look and picture, I have noticed the bright orange flower everywhere I go. On sidewalks, in parks, even in street dividers. I even took a drive down the coast of California a few months ago the patches of poppies were on the sides of the freeway the whole way down. No wonder it became the state flower in 1903!

The California poppy is a perennial plant, meaning lives for more than two years, or an annual plant. It can grow up to 60 inches in height and the leaves are round and lobed. The flower itself has four petals which can close in windy or cold weather and open back up in sunnier or warmer weather. The seeds of the California poppy are small black and dark brown and oval-shaped. The plant is native to California but extends up the Oregon and Washington, as well as Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico.

Some important facts about the California poppy come from its pollen production. It has a markedly high pollen production, which could attribute to its abundance. In addition, because of its ease of growing, it has invasive potential due to its introduction to different climates and being widely sold across the world. The large amounts of pollen on the open and bright colored flowers attract a multitude of pollinators. The California poppy is commonly pollinated by beetles, bumblebees, sweat bees, mining bees, and honey bees.

California flannelbush (Fremontodendron californicum)

These beautiful yellow flowers are part of the California flannelbush. This large and fast-growing evergreen shrub is native to California. The flowers that bloom in spring and summer jumped out at me when I was taking a walk in the Presidio. I took some pictures and followed up with some research into the main characteristics of the California flannelbush as well as some interesting facts.

The plant is found in many habitats across California. As mentioned before, it is a large evergreen shrub with olive-green fuzzy leaves. The yellow or orange flowers can grow up to six centimeters in diameter. They blossom in spring and summer and an interesting fact about the flower itself is that the petal-like parts of the flower are actually not petals but are the plants sepal.

Looking into the taxonomy of the plant, I found that the Fremontodendron californicum is one species in the genus fremontendron, which also includes Fremontodendrum mexicanum and Fremontodendron decumbens.

Another interesting fact comes from the long history and role the California flannelbush has played. It is a traditional Native American medicinal plant. The sap from the bark of the plant was used both topically for irritation and for upset stomachs. The wood also was sued by native American tribes Yokut and Kawaiisu to build furniture and tools that allowed them to collect food.

Lastly, I thought it was important to look at the role the plant plays now in our ecosystem. Looking into the pollination of the California flannelbush, I found that bees and butterflies are pollinators for this flower and therefore are big supporters for bees and butterflies, and vice versa.

You never know how much history a plant can play and researching the California flannelbush has taught me that plants are not just the pretty flowers that catch your eye but have played many different roles in history.

Blueblossom (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus)

Blueblossoms are a large almost tree like evergreen shrub that has a beautiful blue color. They are the most common type of plant in the ceanothus genus and are the largest as well. They are endemic to the coast of Northern California and Oregon and are native to California. The reselmblence of a lilac gave this flower the term “Califonria lilac” although important

to note it is not actually in the genus Syringa, which is a true lilac. After seeing this flower walking in the Presidio, I began to notice them everywhere throughout the city. I see them up and down the streets walking around in the city. It is no surprise they are found on the coast as they do better when near a naturally moister area.

Their large size and blue color make them stand out and are easily recognizable. The flowers bloom in Spring and early summer and are perennial.

They play an important role in pollination as they are responsible for attracting a large number of native bees. They also play a role in conservation biological control as they attract parasitoid and predatory insects that can prey upon any pests. The blueblosoms are important for butterflies as well, and their seed pods provide a food source for birds and small mammals.

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Michael Hood
Michael Hood
Dec 16, 2023

Very beautiful natives. As a color lover, I love it immensely. Plus I am a graphic designer and I have a small collection of poppy flower vectors and they are quite popular. Especially for floral projects.

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