California Poppy

February Flowers: Week #4
In 1903, California adopted Escholzia californica (AKA: The California Poppy) as its state flower.  There are many species of poppies.  This golden flower can be found in every sunny part of California along the coastline and is a great choice to represent the Golden State.  

The California poppy is not the poppy that we pin to our shirts on Memorial Day and it is not the flower that made Dorothy sleepy in the Wizard of Oz.  Although it was reported to be cultivated in England only 10 years after the early explorers described it in the late 1500's, researchers believe its greater expansion to places like South America, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa was due to the frequency of travelers after the Gold Rush in 1849. Because the California poppy is not native anywhere else in the world, but grows well in areas that share the same Mediterranean climate, it is an invasive species in those areas and seen as a weed.  

Here in California, the beautiful poppy is protected by California Penal Code Section 384a .  There is no law that protects California poppy specifically, but this law does require written permission to remove or sell any plant material from land that the person does not own.  That means that it is illegal to pick any flower from any public land or land that is not yours.  
Nectar Vs. Pollen
Nectar in flowers is a sugary substance that serves as a sweet attraction for pollinators like birds and butterflies. These pollinators intentionally come to get the sweet treat and, in the process, gather and spread pollen unintentionally.  
The California poppy does not have nectar, so hummingbirds and butterflies are not attracted to this flower.  Instead, it depends on bees and other insects to stop by, gather the pollen, and take it from flower to flower. Bees are willing to stop by plants that only have pollen because they depend on both nectar and pollen as part of their diet. 
Plant Word of the Day
Early Spaniards in California called poppies “Dormidera”, to fall asleep, because the flowers close in the evening, and sometimes during cloudy or foggy days.  This sleeping at night phenomenon is called "Nystinanasty".  It is suggested that plants do this to protect their pollen.  

Click on the video below to see this in action.  This poppy is one from my backyard garden.  I recorded a time-lapse of 45 minutes and this is what it looks like sped up to 30 seconds. 
Local Artist Highlight
Our family met Fabiola Gomez when we volunteered with the Santa Monica Mountains National Park Education Department.  She was one the rangers who led hikes for school groups.  Fabiola's work in the Santa Monica Mountains inspires her artwork and creates stickers that reflect this inspiration.
These stickers are an amazing representation of our local native plants and if you are interested in purchasing these stickers or others she has created, be sure to visit her Etsy shop at:
Where in the Conejo to Spot California Poppy
The California poppy loves sunny and dry places.  Any trail that receives lots of sun will more than likely have a few poppy plants growing around.  Our favorite spots to find California poppies are the sunny trails of the Dos Vientos Open Space.  Here are three suggestions for kid-friendly hikes in this area:

Prickly Pear Trail
(Prickly Pear Trail Nature Journal Here)

Vista Del Mar
El Rincon Trail 

Find the Dos Vientos Area Trail Map Here:

Please note that due to the lack of rain this winter, spotting poppy blooms may not begin until after March. 
Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve Live Stream
Year after year, thousands of people drive to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve to see rolling hills of poppies.  Unfortunately, due to the lack of rains this winter, the flower season is expected to be significantly less than years past.  This reserve is beautiful all year round, but if you are interested in the progress of the flowers specifically, you can check the Reserve Live Stream link here:

Live streams can be very fun to watch.  
The last time I checked this site, a coyote walked by!  
Flower Photo Contest
In honor of Spring coming, I am hosting a flower contest!  
Email me at a picture of your favorite flower.  It can be flower in your garden, a friend's garden, or along a trail.  I only ask that you take the picture.  One picture per person and multiple people per household may submit pictures.  I will then put your names in a hat and the winner will receive two stickers in the mail designed by Fabiola Gomez.  One sticker will be a California poppy and the other sticker will be a Matillija Poppy.

All submissions for the contest must be emailed by Saturday, February 27th at 8pm.  

No purchase is necessary. All ages welcomed.
Open to United States residents living in the 48 contiguous states only.

Each picture submitted must be taken by the person who submitted it. 
One submission per photographer
(multiple photographers from household is okay) 
One person in the household must subscribe to this Conejo Valley Nature Club Newsletter. If you don't already subscribe, click here to fix that now!

Submissions must be emailed by 8pm PDT, Saturday, February 27, 2021.
Winner will be notified on Sunday, February 28, 2021.
Participation in the this contest gives Nature Kids Activities permission to post submitted photos in the Conejo Valley Nature Club Newsletter to be published on Monday, March 1st and through Nature Kids Activities' social media accounts.
COSCA Flower Guide
As you notice flowers blooming along the trails, a great identification resource is the Native Plant Wild Flower Reference Sheet.  This free printable guide is arranged by color so it is very easy to find the flower you are looking for.  This is a resource that should be kept in an adventure backpack for sure. 

Each spring, our family uses this guide as a BINGO sheet.  With a dry-erase marker or stickers, you can mark off which flowers you see this spring.  How many do you think you will spot this year?  

Click on the picture above to download this flower guide or visit: 
Information for this newsletter was collected from
the following resources: 

"Wild LA: Explore the Amazing Nature in and Around Los Angeles"
by Lila M. Higgins, Gregory B. Pauly, Jason G. Goldman  Charles Hood

The Nature Collective
If you would like this information in a format you can distribute to your class, let's chat! Email Christina at
This week, share your nature pictures using the hashtag: #CONEJOVALLEYNATURECLUB
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