BUSH SUNFLOWER (Encelia californica)
This low and bushy perennial shrub normally reaches a height of four feet and is part of the coastal sage scrub and chaparral communities. It is also a plant that does well on coastal bluffs. The plant begins to flower as soon as it has moisture from precipitation. When conditions are right, the plant can bloom year round with its large yellow flowers. However, when the temperature gets hot and moisture is limited, the plant will cease its flower production and may even lose some leaves.
The flower looks quite similar to a black eyed Susan. It, like other plants, is utilized by other species. In this case, certain insects larvae, which only eat Encelia, benefit from its existence.
CALIFORNIA POPPY (Eschscholzia californica)
Known as the California’s state flower, the California poppy, is a showy yellow or orange flower. Its golden blooms seemed fitting for this golden state. This flower does well in the western United States from sea level to about 6500 feet above sea level. Its flowering season is February to September and its petal colors range from bright yellow to bright orange. Each stem produces one flower, and once the flower has developed, small black or brown seeds in the center of the flower are released when the flower opens.
The California poppy does well in disturbed areas and also is quick to colonize after a burn. This plant reseeds itself year after year and is drought tolerant. It is among favorites for native plant gardens.
Native Americans found uses for this plant as well. In fact, the poppy produced a mild sedative when smoked and its pollen was used for cosmetic purposes. It is a myth that you are not allowed to cut the state flower, it is not a protected species. However, if you are in the State Park all plants and animals are protected natural resources. Check local nurseries or garden centers for poppy seeds to plant in your own home garden.
SILVER LUPINE (Lupinus albifrons)
This show blue and purple flower grows on stalks in the Western United States, but is common in both coastal sage scrub and chaparral commuunities. It grows from 3 – 5′ tall and includes many varieties between Baja California and Oregon. Lupin does well in full sun and is plant loved by butterflies.
COULTER’S MATILIJA POPPY (Romneya coulteri)
Known for its “sunny side up egg” appearance, the Matilija Poppy is easily identified in nature. Not only is this plant native to the state, but it is also endemic to California (meaning it ONLY grows in California). It is also found mainly in coastal sage scrub and chaparral habitats.
The Matilijia Poppy is listed in the California Native Plant Society’s list of Rare and Endangered Plants. The plant itself can grow up to 8′ tall and its flowers are the largest of any plant native to California. It typically inhabits dry washes and canyons. This white flower with a yellow center blooms March to July.
Its name appears to be of Chumash origin and can be pronounced one of two ways: ma-TIL-i-ha or ma-til-EE-ha.