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The herbaceous plant called the California poppy is native to the western regions of North America. It is a small annual or perennial plant that can reach two ft or sixty cm in height when fully grown. The leaves of the California poppy are finely cut and the plant bears pretty red, bright orange, and yellow or pink color flowers - and many people around the world cultivate the plant for its flowers.

The early Spanish explorers of North western America first came upon the flowers, which at that time covered entire mountain stretches of coastal California like a veritable golden blanket. The landscape covered by orange and yellow poppy blossoms so impressed the Spanish that they called coastal California - the Land of Fire, referring to the bloom. It has been anecdotally said that in the old days, before development, time robbed the mountains of the flowers, the blanketed landscape was used by sailors at sea as beacons to chart their course landwards. These days the California poppy is the state flower of California.

California poppy, being similar to all the other plants in the poppy family, possesses a sap that contains sedative alkaloid compounds. The sedative action possessed by the plant was traditionally used by the local Indians as an herbal painkiller, especially for toothaches and other physical problems. The Native Americans also used the California poppy in treating disorders such as insomnia and persistent headache; they also used an herbal poultice made from the poppy for the treatment of sores and ulcers on the skin. A love charm was traditionally made from the California poppy by the native Indian women to lure unresponsive lovers, the charm must have worked as it was once considered a crime under tribal law and such women would face expulsion from the tribe if they were unlucky enough to be detected. Even these days, a hair tonic is made from the California poppy by some local Californians of Spanish heritage, who cook the poppy in some olive oil and use the solution as a tonic for hair, this tonic is supposed to make hair grow thicker and shinier. The Spanish gave the name Dormidera, or “the drowsy one,” to the flower of the poppy, true to its Californian roots the California poppy is a sun worshipper, and grows well in full sunlight, always closing itself up very tightly as night falls.


Dried aerial parts.


The nervous system is affected in a very different way by the California poppy, even though this plant is a close relative of the opium poppy, a plant well known for many narcotic products. The main difference is that the California poppy does not induce a narcotic effect on the body. The opposite effect seems to be true of the California poppy; the plant seems to be able to normalize psychological function in a person instead of disorienting mental states. The California poppy’s is ideal for the treatment of physical and psychological problems in children due to the gentle anti-spasmodic, the potent sedative and analgesic effects it possesses - this plant is highly valued for these reasons. Disorders and conditions such as persistent bedwetting, problems with sleeping, persistent nervous tension and anxiety can be effectively treated using the herbal remedies made from the California poppy.

July 21, 2011 by JJ Pursell

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