Annual or perennial growing to 2 ft (60 cm). California poppy has finely cut leaves and bright orange, yellow, pink, or red flowers.
Habitat & Cultivation
California poppy is native to western North America. Widely cultivated as a garden plant, it prefers sandy soils.
California poppy contains isoquinoline alkaloids (including protopine, cryptopine, and chelidonine) and flavone glycosides.
History & Folklore
Native American peoples were known to use the sap of California poppy for its pain-killing properties, particularly for toothache. The leaves were also eaten as a vegetable. Early settlers used California poppy for sleep problems, especially in children, and for whooping cough. It is California’s state flower.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Though the California poppy is a close relation of the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum), it has a significantly different effect on the central nervous system. California poppy is not a narcotic. In fact, rather than disorienting the user, it actually tends to normalize psychological function.
California poppy’s gently antispasmodic, sedative, and analgesic effects make it a valuable herbal medicine for treating physical and psychological problems in children. The herb may prove beneficial in attempts to overcome nervous tension and anxiety, bed-wetting, and difficulty in sleeping.
A French study confirmed the traditional usage of California poppy by showing that extracts were sedative, reduced anxiety levels, and were non-toxic.