Why is the California Poppy the State Flower? | BeCause Tees

Why is the California Poppy the State Flower?

The California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) offers a vibrant burst of color across the Californian landscape. This beautiful wildflower has captured the hearts of Californians and visitors alike and is proudly recognized as the California state flower, but why was it chosen? In this blog post, we'll explore the history and symbolism behind this colorful flower and find out why the California Poppy is the state flower.

California Poppies

How Was the California Poppy Chosen as the State Flower?

In 1890, when many other states were choosing state emblems, the California State Floral Society decided to hold a vote to establish an official flower for California. The California Poppy was up against 2 other contenders: Mariposa Lily and the Matilija Poppy. However, it was the California Poppy that won the title by a landslide and in 1903 it was made official. The California Poppy has been the state flower for California ever since.

What is the California Poppy?

The California Poppy, scientific name Eschscholzia californica, is a plant in the poppy family Papaveraceae. Also known as the golden poppy, California sunlight, and cup of gold, the California Poppy has blue-green foliage and petals that are usually yellow and orange, although cultivated varieties may have red, pink, or white colored petals. Native to the southwestern United States and Mexico, this plant needs sun and won't survive in very cold climates.

Field of California Poppies

Why is the California Poppy so Popular?

The California Poppy is popular now in the present day, just as it was many years ago, when it was easily voted to be the state flower. 

As an indigenous wildflower, the California Poppy is a California native plant and thrives in its diverse ecosystems. It can be found throughout the state and its adaptability and resilience have made it a symbol of the California landscape and its natural heritage. The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve is a state reserve that blooms with these beautiful flowers each year.

The state flower even has an awareness day held every year - April 6th is California Poppy Day.


The California Poppy embodies qualities that resonate deeply with the spirit of California. Its vibrant color symbolizes the state's brilliant sunshine. Moreover, the poppy's ability to flourish even in harsh conditions reflects the resilience and adaptability of Californians throughout history, from the Gold Rush era to present times.

Medicinal Properties

The California Poppy is also recognized for its medicinal properties. Native Americans used it for its calming and sedative effects, as well as for treating various ailments. Today, it continues to be appreciated for its therapeutic qualities, and it is still used in herbal remedies to aid issues such as sleep disorders and muscle tension.


The selection of the California Poppy as the state flower is a testament to its beauty, resilience, and deep connection to the land. Its vibrantly colored petals and ability to thrive in challenging environments make it a fitting symbol for the Golden State. Celebrate this beautiful wildflower with our California Poppy Heart and Colorful California Poppy Heart collections.

Colorful California Poppy tote bag


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