Herbs & Plants

Ephedra (genus)

Botanical Name :Ephedra distachya
Family: Ephedraceae
Genus: Ephedra
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Gnetophyta
Class: Gnetopsida
Order: Ephedrales
Common Names: Joint-pine, Jointfir, Mormon-tea or Brigham Tea. Mormon-tea,, cañatilla, popotillo, tepopote (Stevenson 1993), Sea Grape

The Chinese name is , má huáng (Fu et al. 1999)., which means “yellow hemp”. Ephedra is also sometimes called sea grape (from the French raisin de mer), although that is also a common name for Coccoloba uvifera.

Habitat :
Semiarid and arid areas in North America, Mexico, South America  south to Patagonia. , Europe, Asia, and N and E Africa (including Canary Islands) (Stevenson 1993, Fu et al. 1999).

The 35 species in this treatment are distributed as follows:

Their habitats are all described as dry, rocky and/or sandy. A few species occur in grasslands, and for a few species, habitat is not specified.

One species occurs in Argentina and Chile, from Tierra del Fuego to 42° S.

Two species occur in North Africa, one of which also occurs in SW Asia (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Israel) and Cyprus.

Twelve species are in the USA (Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Wyoming) of which 5 species also occur in Mexico (Baja California Norte, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí, Sonora).

The remaining 21 species are Eurasian, with focal areas in central Asia (18 species) and around the Mediterreanean (4 species, plus the North African ones). These break out according to country as follows:

•China: 14 species (in Gansu, Guizhou, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Nei Mongol, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Shandong, Sichuan, Xinjiang, Xizang, and Yunnan)
•Pakistan: 9 species
•Kazakhstan and Mongolia: 8 species each
•Afghanistan: 7 species
•Tajikistan: 6 species
•Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan: 4 species each
•Greece, India, Iran, Nepal, Sikkim, Turkmenistan: 2 species each
•Armenia, Bhutan, France, Germany, Hungary, Slovak Republic, Turkey, Ukraine: 1 species each
The New World species mostly occur at elevations of below 2000 m, with a few species reaching as high as 2300 m. The Eurasian species show a much greater elevation range, from sea level to 5300 m (E. gerardiana, the highest gymnosperm species). E. intermedia probably has the greatest elevational range of any single gymnosperm species, ranging from 100 to 4600 m elevation across its vast range.

It grows on the semi-desert and desert regions and on gritty slopes on the Russian steppes. Grasslands, sandy places and rocky mountain slopes below 900 metres in China.


Shrubs or vines, dioecious (rarely monoecious), with erect, procumbent or climbing stems,  growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 1 m (3ft 3in). Branches jointed, much branched, photosynthetic, yellowish green to olive-green when young. Branchlets opposite or whorled, green, terete, longitudinally grooved. Leaves opposite or in whorls of 3, scalelike, generally ephemeral, mostly not photosynthetic; resin canals absent. Cotyledons 2. Cones terminal or axillary, ovoid to elliptic. Pollen cones solitary or clustered at nodes, each composed of 2-8 descussate pairs or 3-part whorls of membranous bracts, proximal bracts empty; each distal bract subtending a male flower composed of 2 basally fused, orbicular or obovate scales (false perianth); anthers sessile or stipitate on staminal column. Seed cones opposite or in whorls of 3 or 4 at nodes, each cone composed of overlapping bracts; bracts arranged in 2-10 decussate pairs or whorls of 3, red and fleshy at maturity (rarely brown and membranous), proximal bracts empty, most distal bracts subtending an axillary female flower composed of a pair of fused, leathery scales (false perianth) enclosing ovule with a single membranous integument prolonged into a slender, tubular micropyle. Seeds 1-3 per cone, ellipsoid to globose, yellow to dark brown, smooth to scabrous or furrowed (Stevenson 1993, Fu et al. 1999).

click to see the pictures....(01)...(1)……...(2).…...(3).……...

Requires a well-drained loamy soil and a sunny position. Established plants are drought resistant and are also lime tolerant. Plants are hardy to at least -15°c. This species does not flower or fruit well in Britai. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a greenhouse. It can also be sown in spring in a greenhouse in a sandy compost. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on for at least their first winter in a greenhouse. Plant out in the spring or early summer after the last expected frosts and give some protection in their first winter. Division in spring or autumn. Layering.

 Edible Uses :  Fruit  is eaten raw. A sweet but rather insipid flavour. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter.

Medicinal Uses:

Plants of the Ephedra genus, including E. sinica and others, have traditionally been used by indigenous people for a variety of medicinal purposes, including treatment of asthma, hay fever, and the common cold. They have also been proposed as a candidate for the Soma plant of Indo-Iranian religion. The alkaloids ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are active constituents of E. sinica and other members of the genus. These compounds are sympathomimetics with stimulant and decongestant qualities and are related chemically to the amphetamines. Ephedra nevadensis contains ephedrine in its roots, stems and branches. Ephedra distachya contains up to 3% ephedrine in the entire plant. Ephedra sinica contains approximately 2.2% ephedrine.

Members of this genus contain various medicinally active alkaloids (but notably ephedrine) and they are widely used in preparations for the treatment of asthma and catarrh. The whole plant can be used at much lower concentrations than the isolated constituents – unlike using the isolated ephedrine, using the whole plant rarely gives rise to side-effects. The plant also has antiviral effects, particularly against influenza. Ephedrine stimulates the sympathetic nervous system dilating the coronary vessels. It has a powerful and rapid antiallergic action. Indicated to combat coughs, asthma, hay fever, nettle-rash, some edema and eczema conditions. A tincture and an extract are used. It is used to relieve acute muscular and rheumatic pains (when it is called teamsters’ tea), as a stimulant, and in the cardio tonics in Ayurveda. It is sometimes identified with the legendary drug soma, as described in the Avesta and the Rig Veda, the respective ancient sacred texts of the Zoroastrian and Hindu faiths. Valued in Chinese medicine almost as much as Ephedra sinica. The branches and root are used in Siberia as a remedy in gout and syphilis.
The stems are a pungent, bitter, warm herb that dilates the bronchial vessels while stimulating the heart and central nervous system. They are used internally in the treatment of asthma, hay fever and allergic complaints. They are also combined with a number of other herbs and used in treating a wide range of complaints.


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Discussions on Ephedra (genus)

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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Herbs & Plants

Yucca (Yucca schidigera)

Botanical Name : Yucca schidigera
Family: Agavaceae
Genus: Yucca
Kingdom: Plantae
Species: Y. schidigera

Habitat : It is native to the Mojave Desert and Sonoran Desert of southeastern California, Baja California, southern Nevada and western Arizona.


The Mojave yucca is a small evergreen tree growing to 5 m tall, with a dense crown of spirally arranged bayonet-like leaves on top of a conspicuous basal trunk. The bark is gray-brown, being covered with brown dead leaves near the top, becoming irregularly rough and scaly-to-ridged closer to the ground. The leaves are 30-150 cm long and 4-11 cm broad at the base, concavo-convex, thick, very rigid, and yellow-green to blue-green in color.

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The Mojave yucca (Yucca schidigera), also known as the Spanish Dagger, is a flowering plant in the family Agavaceae.

The flowers are white, sometimes having a purple tinge, bell-shaped, 3-5 cm long (rarely to 7.5 cm), produced in a compact, bulbous cluster 60-120 cm tall at the top of the stem. The fruit is fleshy and green, maturing into a leathery, dark brown six-celled capsule 5-11.5 cm long and 3-4 cm broad in late summer.

This yucca typically grows on rocky desert slopes and Creosote desert flats between 300-1200 m altitude, rarely up to 2500 m. They thrive in full sun and in soil with excellent drainage. It also needs no summer water. It is related to the Banana yucca (Y. baccata), which occurs in the same general area; hybrids between the two are sometimes found.

Medicinal Uses:

Common Uses: Cholesterol Control * Osteoarthritis * Pet care * Rheumatoid Arthritis *
Properties:  Analgesic* Anti-inflammatory* Antirheumatic*
Parts Used: Roots
Constituents: saponin (click to see : Saponin’s Research Information)

Yucca’ s most promising use among natural health practitioners is in the treatment of both osteo and rheumatoid arthritis. The steroidal saponins in yucca are used as starter substances in the production of synthetic steroid drugs. These phytosterols work with the natural immune functions of the body, and assist the body in using and producing these its steroid related hormones. Human studies have shown that an extract of yucca reduces the swelling, pain and stiffness of arthritis, though the studies were controversial.

Currently extracts from this plant are in animal feed and various herbal medications. Some reports claim that Native Americans washed their hair with yucca to fight dandruff and hair loss. Among the other maladies this yucca has been used to treat are headaches, bleeding, gonorrhea, arthritis and rheumatism.

Other Uses:
The fibers of the leaves were used by Native Americans to make rope, sandals, and cloth. The flowers and fruit could be eaten and the black seeds were ground into a flour. The roots were used to make soap.  Also used as a natural deodorizer. Used in pet deodorizers.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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Herbs & Plants

Agave Americana

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Botanical Name: Agave americana
Family : Agavaceae/Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Agavoideae
Genus : Agave
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Genus: Agave
Species: A. americana

Synonym(s) : Agave cantula, Agave cantala

Sanskrit Synonyms : Kandala

Common Names: Centuryplant,  Maguey, or American aloe

Local Indian  name: Kithanara
English Name : Century plant, Maguey, American Aloe
Hindi : Bharakhawar, Rakshpattah
Malayalam : Ageve, Anakaita, Eropakaita, Kandalachedi

Habitat : Agavaceae, originally native to Mexico, and the United States in Arizona and Texas. Today it cultivated worldwide as an ornamental plant. It has become naturalized in many regions including the West Indies, parts of South America, the southern Mediterranean Basin, parts of Africa, India, China, Thailand, New Zealand, Australia. It grows on  sandy places in desert scrub at elevations around 200 metres in Texas and eastern Mexico.


An evergreen Perennial growing to 7.5m by 2.5m at a slow rate.It has a spreading rosette (about 4 m/13 ft wide) of gray-green leaves up to 2 m (6.6 ft) long, each with a spiny margin and a heavy spike at the tip that can pierce to the bone. Its common name derives from its habit of only occasionally flowering, but when it does, the spike with a cyme of big yellow flowers may reach up to 8 m (26 ft) in height. The plant dies after flowering, but produces suckers or adventitious shoots from the base, which continue its growth.

Although it is called the century plant, it typically lives only 10 to 30 years. It has a spread of about 6–10 ft (1.8–3.0 m) with gray-green leaves of 3–5 ft (0.9–1.5 m) long, each with a prickly margin and a heavy spike at the tip that can pierce to the bone. Near the end of its life, the plant sends up a tall, branched stalk, laden with yellow blossoms, that may reach a total height of up to 25–30 ft (8–9 m) tall….....CLICK & SEE

Its common name derives from its semelparous nature of flowering only once at the end of its long life. The plant dies after flowering, but produces suckers or adventitious shoots from the base, which continue its growth

CLICK TO SEE THE PICTURES..>…..(01).…...…(1)....(2).……..(3)....…(4).……....(5)..……(6)...

The average lifespan is around 10 years.

Cultivated varieties include the “marginata” with yellow stripes along the margins of each leaf, “medio-picta” with a central white band, “striata” with multiple yellow to white stripes along the leaves, and “variegata” with white edges on the leaves

It is hardy to zone 9 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf all year. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies), bats.

The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

Requires a very well-drained soil and a sunny position. The agave is not very hardy in Britain tolerating temperatures down to about -3°c if conditions are not wet. It succeeds outdoors on the south coast of England from Torbay westwards. Plants survived lower temperatures during the very cold winters from 1985/1987 and were unharmed at Glendurgan gardens in West Cornwall. A monocarpic species, the plant lives for a number of years without flowering but dies once it does flower. However, it normally produces plenty of suckers during its life and these continue growing, taking about 10 – 15 years in a warm climate, considerably longer in colder ones, before flowering. This plant is widely used by the native people in its wild habitat, it has a wide range of uses. In a warm climate suckers take 10 – 15 years to come into flower. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.


Seed surface sow in a light position, April in a warm greenhouse. The seed usually germinates in 1 – 3 months at 20°c. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots of well-drained soil when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a sunny position in the greenhouse until they are at least 20cm tall. Plant out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts, and give some protection from the cold for at least their first few winters. Offsets can be potted up at any time they are available. Keep in a warm greenhouse until they are well established

Different Uses:
If the flower stem is cut without flowering, a sweet liquid called agua miel (“honey water”) gathers in the heart of the plant. This may be fermented to produce the drink called pulque. The leaves also yield fibers, known as pita, which are suitable for making rope, matting, coarse cloth and are used for embroidery of leather in a technique known as piteado. Both pulque and maguey fibre were important to the economy of pre-Columbian Mexico. Production continues today to a much lesser extent. Agave nectar (also called agave syrup) has recently been marketed as a healthful natural sugar substitute…....CLICK  &   SEE
The sap is quite acidic and can be quite painful if it comes in contact with the skin. It can form small blisters.

Tequila is made from a different species, the Blue Agave (A. tequilana).

Edible Uses:-
Edible Parts: Leaves; Sap; Seed; Stem.

The heart of the plant is very rich in saccharine matter and can be eaten when baked. Sweet and nutritious, but rather fibrous. It is partly below ground. Seed – ground into a flour and used as a thickener in soups or used with cereal flours when making bread. Flower stalk – roasted. Used like asparagus. Sap from the cut flowering stems is used as a syrup  or fermented into pulque or mescal. The sap can also be tapped by boring a hole into the middle of the plant at the base of the flowering stem.

Medicinal Actions & Uses:-
Antiseptic; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Laxative; Miscellany; Odontalgic; VD.

The sap of agaves has long been used in Central America as a binding agent for various powders used as poultices on wounds. The sap can also be taken internally in the treatment of diarrhoea, dysentery etc. The sap is antiseptic, diaphoretic, diuretic and laxative. An infusion of the chopped leaf is purgative and the juice of the leaves is applied to bruises. The plant is used internally in the treatment of indigestion, flatulence, constipation, jaundice and dysentery. The sap has disinfectant properties and can be taken internally to check the growth of putrefactive bacteria in the stomach and intestines. Water in which agave fibre has been soaked for a day can be used as a scalp disinfectant and tonic in cases of falling hair.

Steroid drug precursors are obtained from the leaves. A gum from the root and leaf is used in the treatment of toothache. The root is diaphoretic and diuretic.  It is used in the treatment of syphilis. All parts of the plant can be harvested for use as required, they can also be dried for later use. The dried leaves and roots store well.

leaves used medicinally by Indians of the Southwestern US.  Also a modern source of steroids.  A demulcent, laxative and antiseptic, agave sap is a soothing and restorative remedy for many digestive ailments. It is used to treat ulcers and inflammatory conditions affecting the stomach and intestines, protecting these parts from infection and irritation and encouraging healing. Agave has also been employed to treat a wide range of other conditions, including syphilis, tuberculosis, jaundice, and liver disease.  Agave sap has very soothing properties and can be used interchangeably with aloe vera on topical wounds and burns.  The sisal agave is a source of hecogenin, the substance that is the starting point in the production of corticosteroids.  Water in which agave fiber has been soaked for a day can be used as a scalp disinfectant and tonic in cases of falling hair.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Other Uses:-
Fibre; Insecticide; Miscellany; Needles; Paper; Pins; Soap; Soil reclamation; Thatching.

The plant contains saponins. An extract of the leaves is used as a soap. The roots are used according to another report. It is likely that the root is the best source of the saponins that are used to make a soap.

Chop up the leaves or the roots into small pieces and then simmer them in water to extract the saponins.

Do not over boil or you will start to break down the saponins. There is a report that the plant has insecticidal properties, but further details are not given. A very strong fibre obtained from the leaves is used for making rope, coarse fabrics etc. A paper can also be made from the leaves. The thorns on the leaves are used as pins and needles. The dried flowering stems are used as a waterproof thatch and as a razor strop. The plants are used in land-reclamation schemes in arid areas of the world.

The leaves also yield fibers, known as pita, which are suitable for making rope, matting, coarse cloth and are used for embroidery of leather in a technique known as piteado. Both pulque and maguey fibre were important to the economy of pre-Columbian Mexico. Production continues today to a much lesser extent.

Agave nectar (also called agave syrup) has recently been marketed as a healthful natural sugar substitute

Known Hazards
:    Contact with the fresh sap can cause dermatitis in sensitive people. The plants have a   very sharp and tough spine at the tip of each leaf. They need to be carefully sited in the garden.


Herbs & Plants

California Poppy ( Eschscholzia californica)

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Botanical Name : Eschscholzia californica
Family: Papaveraceae
Genus: Eschscholzia
Species: E. californica
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ranunculales
Parts Used: Aerial parts

Synonyms:  Eschscholzia douglasii.

Common Names : California poppy, Californian poppy,  Golden poppy, California sunlight, Cup of gold
Habitat:   Eschscholzia californica  is native to   Western N. America – ——-Washington to California and Nevada. A frequent garden escape in Britain. Grassy open places to 2000 metres in California

Description:      Eschscholzia californica  is a  perennial herb, with spreading stems, growing up to 2 feet tall with alternately branching glaucous blue-green foliage. The leaves are ternately divided into round, lobed segments. The leaves are divided many times into fine greenish- gray segments. Conspicuous flowers range in color from bright yellow to deep orange and have four petals and many stamens. to see the pictures.>..(01)......…(1)….…..….(2)..…….…(3)...………………….

The flowers are solitary on long stems, silky-textured, with four petals, each petal 2-6 cm long and broad; their color ranges from yellow to orange, and flowering is from February to September. The fruit is a slender dehiscent capsule 3-9 cm long, which splits in two to release the numerous small black or dark brown seeds. It is perennial in mild parts of its native range, and annual in colder climates; growth is best in full sun and sandy, well-drained, poor soil.

It grows well in disturbed areas and often recolonizes after fires. In addition to being planted for horticulture, revegetation, and highway beautification, it often colonizes along roadsides and other disturbed areas. It is drought-tolerant, self-seeding, and easy to grow in gardens.

Cultivation :
Succeeds in a hot dry position. Plants grow well in maritime climates. A very ornamental plant, it is commonly grown in the flower garden and there are many named varieties. This plant is the state flower of California. Although a perennial it is usually quite short-lived and is more often grown as an annual in this country. It can tolerate temperatures down to about -10°c, however, and often survives mild winters. If the dead flowers are removed before they set seed the plant will continue flowering for a longer period. A polymorphic species. Plants resent root disturbance and should be sown in situ. The flowers are very attractive to bees. They close during wet or overcast weather. Plants often self-sow if the soil is disturbed by some means such as hoeing. Special Features:Attractive foliage, North American native, Naturalizing, Suitable for cut flowers, Extended bloom season in Zones 9A and above.

Seed – sow in mid spring or late summer to early autumn in a sunny border outdoors and only just cover the seed.  Autumn sown plants may require protection from frosts in cold winters. The seed usually germinates in 2 – 3 weeks.

Edible Uses:…..Leaves – cooked. This plant is in a family that contains many poisonous plants so some caution is advised in using it.

Constituents: Califonidine, eschscoltzin, protopine, N-methyllaurotanin, allocryptopine, cheleryytrine and sanguinarine.
Medicinal Uses:

Anodyne; Antianxiety; Antidepressant; Antispasmodic; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Galactofuge; Odontalgic.

The Californian poppy is a bitter sedative herb that acts as a diuretic, relieves pain, relaxes spasms and promotes perspiration. The whole plant is harvested when in flower and dried for use in tinctures and infusions. It is taken internally in the treatment of nervous tension, anxiety, insomnia and incontinence (especially in children). The watery sap is mildly narcotic and has been used to relieve toothache. It is similar in its effect to the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) but is much milder in its action and does not depress the central nervous system. Another report says that it has a markedly different effect upon the central nervous system, that it is not a narcotic but tends to normalize psychological function. Its gently antispasmodic, sedative and analgesic actions make it a valuable herbal medicine for treating physical and psychological problems in children. It may also prove beneficial in attempts to overcome bedwetting, difficulty in sleeping and nervous tension and anxiety. An extract of the root is used as a wash on the breasts to suppress the flow of milk in lactating females.

Used for stress, anxiety, tension, neuralgia, incontinence ( especially in children), tachycardia, hypertension, colic, headache, and toothache.
California Poppy has the reputation of being non-addictive (compared to the Opium Poppy), though it is less powerful. It has been used effectively as a sedative, and also as a hypnotic for those cases when a spasmodic remedy is required.
It is used in treating sleeplessness and over excitability in children, acting as a sedative. It is a non-addictive alternative to the Opium Poppy.

Other Uses: Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Foundation, Massing, Rock garden. Prefers a poor sandy soil and a sunny position but is easily grown in an ordinary garden soil.

The species is very variable, and over 90 synonyms exist. Some botanists accept two subspecies, one with four varieties (e.g. Leger and Rice, 2003), though others do not recognise them as distinct (e.g. Jepson 1993):

E. californica subsp. californica, native to California, Baja California, and Oregon, widely planted as an ornamental, and an invasive elsewhere.

E.californica subsp. californica var. californica, which is found along the coast from the San Francisco Peninsula north. They are perennial and somewhat prostrate, with yellow flowers.

E. californica subsp. californica var. maritima (E. L. Greene) Jeps., which is found along the coast from Monterey south to San Miguel Island. They are perennial, long-lived, glaucous, short in stature, and have extremely prostrate growth and yellow flowers.

E. californica subsp. californica var. crocea (Benth.) Jeps., which grows in non-arid inland regions. They are perennial, taller, and have orange flowers.

E. california subsp. californica var. peninsularis (E. L. Greene) Munz, which is an annual or facultative annual growing in arid inland environments.

E. californica subsp. mexicana (E. L. Greene) C. Clark, the Mexican Goldpoppy, which is found in the Sonoran Desert.

History and uses
Eschscholzia californica was the first named member of the genus Eschscholzia, which was named by the German botanist Adelbert von Chamisso after another botanist, Johann Friedrich von Eschscholtz, his friend and colleague on Otto von Kotzebue’s scientific expedition to California and the greater Pacific in the early 19th century.

Spanish explorers called the flower copa de oro, “cup of gold” or sometimes dormidera, which means, “the drowsy one” because the flowers close at dusk. The botanical name is in honor of Dr. J.F. Eschscholtz, a physician and naturalist, who came to explore California with the Russians in 1816 and 1824.
Native Indians used the green foliage as a vegetable and parts of the plant as a mild pain-killer.

The California poppy is the California state flower. It was selected as the state flower by the California State Floral Society in December 1890, winning out over the Mariposa lily (genus Calochortus) and the Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri) by a landslide, but the state legislature did not make the selection official until 1903. Its golden blooms were deemed a fitting symbol for the Golden State. April 6 of each year is designated “California Poppy Day.”

Horticulturalists have produced numerous cultivars with various other colors and blossom and stem forms. These typically do not breed true on reseeding.

A common myth associated with the plant is that cutting or otherwise damaging the California poppy is illegal because it is a state flower. There is no such law. There is a state law that makes it a misdemeanor to cut or remove any flower, tree, shrub or other plant growing on state or county highways, with an exception for authorized government employees and contractors (Cal. Penal Code Section 384a).

The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve is located in northern Los Angeles County, California. At the peak of the blooming season, orange petals seem to cover all 1,745 acres (7 km²) of the reserve.

As an invasive species:
Because of its beauty and ease of growing, the California poppy was introduced into several regions with similar Mediterranean climates. It is commercially sold and widely naturalized in Australia, and was introduced to South Africa, Chile, and Argentina. In Chile, it was introduced from multiple sources between the mid 1800s and the early 1900s. It appears to have been both intentionally imported as an ornamental garden plant, and accidentally introduced along with alfalfa seed grown in California. Since Chile and California have similar climatic regions and have experienced much agricultural exchange, it is perhaps not surprising that it was introduced to Chile. Once there, its perennial forms spread primarily in human-disturbed environments (Leger and Rice, 2003).

Interestingly, the introduced Chilean populations of California poppy appear to be larger and more fecund in their introduced range than in their native range (Leger and Rice, 2003). Introduced populations have been noted to be larger and more reproductively successful than native ones (Elton, 1958), and there has been much speculation as to why. Increase in resource availability, decreased competition, and release from enemy pressure have all been proposed as explanations.

One hypothesis is that the resources devoted in the native range to a defense strategy, can in the absence of enemies be devoted to increased growth and reproduction (the EICA hypothesis, Blossey & Nötzold, 1995). However, this is not the case with introduced populations of E. californica in Chile: the Chilean populations were actually more resistant to Californian caterpillars than the native populations (Leger and Forister, 2005).

Within the USA, it is also recognized as a potentially invasive species, being classified in Tennessee as a Rank 3 (Lesser Threat) species, i.e. an exotic plant species that spreads in or near disturbed areas, and is not presently considered a threat to native plant communities (Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council). Also, no indications of ill effects have been reported for this plant where it has been introduced outside of California.

It is not known whether efforts are being undertaken anywhere in its introduced range to control or prevent further spread, nor what methods would be best suited to do so


California poppy leaves were used medicinally by Native Americans, and the pollen was used cosmetically. The seeds are used in cooking.

Extract from the California poppy acts as a mild sedative when smoked. The effect is far milder than that of opium, which contains a different class of alkaloids. Smoking California poppy extract is claimed not to be addictive.

A tincture of California poppy can be used to treat nervousness and, with larger dosage, insomnia.

Preparation and Dosages:
Fresh plant tincture, [1:2] 15 to 25 drops, up to 3 times a day.
Dry herb, standard infusion, 2 to 4 ounces.

Known Hazards : No records of toxicity have been seen but this species belongs to a family that contains many poisonous plants. Some caution is therefore advised.

Contraindications: The California Poppy should not be used in pregnancy due to the uterine stimulating effects from the alkaloid, cryptopine.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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