Native to the western US from Washington to Arizona, California poppies (Eschscholzia californica, Papaveraceae) are perhaps most common in their namesake state. Last week I saw many of these plants along CA-36 in the Klamath Mountains of northern California, and later learned that they are California’s official state flower.
California poppies feature large flowers bearing four bright orange petals that are hard to miss. These plants respond phototropically to light, opening their flowers on sunny days and closing them on cloudy days and at night. In warmer climates they are perennial, surviving for several years in a row. In colder areas they grow as annuals, reproducing and dying within one season. Introduced to other parts of the world as attractive ornamentals, these poppies have since proven to be invasive outside of their native range.