Poppy Glow

Up in the Burrowing Owl Sanctuary, which management has kept closed to the public even though the last Burrowing Owl migrated north on March 17, stands a patch of California Poppies that shows the state flower off in something like its full glow. The Ground Squirrels love to eat the young shoots of this plant, but, somehow missed this stand. Once the plant is mature, the squirrels no longer care for it, and so it flourishes.

The plant’s Latin name is another example among many of California natives bearing the names of remote European tourists with scientific credentials of past centuries. Wikipedia reports:

Eschscholzia californica was the first named species of the genus Eschscholzia, named by the German botanist Adelbert von Chamisso after the Baltic German botanist Johann Friedrich von Eschscholtz, his friend and colleague on Otto von Kotzebue’s scientific expedition to California and the greater Pacific circa 1810 aboard the Russian ship Rurik.


Apparently it never occurred to these learned gentlemen to inquire of the local population, “What is the name of this plant?” True, many languages were spoken among the local people, but one could imagine the visiting explorer naming the flower after the Ohlone herbalist who showed it to him, named it, and explained its features and its uses in the ancient local civilization. But I digress.

However named, it’s been the California state flower since 1903. It’s been widely introduced in other countries. There’s a mystery about its progress in Chile, where it grows with greater vigor, abundance, and pest resistance than in California, and scientists aren’t sure why.

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