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Featured Plant

Romneya coulteri


Scientific Name: Romneya coulteri

Common Names: Matilija Poppy

Family: Papaveraceae

Plant Type: Deciduous perennial

Environment: Rocky or sandy soils, full sun. Drought tolerant once established.Tends to be short-lived.

Bloom: June-August, longer with irrigation; single flower on each stalk

Uses: Bold display in the garden; needs space to spread out so not to overpower smaller plants; regular winter pruning is recommended

Other: Also known as bush or tree poppy
Romneya trichocalyx also has the common name Matilija poppy and grows specifically from Baja California to Ventura County



Romneya coulteri

Among California wildflowers there could be no bigger blossom, nor a taller or more elegant specimen than the Matilija Poppy. Its seven-foot stem supports flowers that are five inches across with six crinkly snow-white petals and numerous orange stamens in their center. The leaves are soft and grey-green in color. Often called the "fried egg poppy," Matilija arrives in the world sunny-side-up!

Matilija is endemic to the chaparral of southern California and Baja California, Mexico. It is named for Chief Matilija of the Chumash, a tribe that inhabited this area for thousands of years before the arrival of the missionaries. The poppy thrives in hot, sunny places with sandy soil. Once established, it becomes a vigorous colonizer by means of its rhizomes. It flourishes with little water and can become invasive in small gardens. Winter, when Matilija becomes dormant, is the best time for transplanting.

Many plants are named after the person who discovered them. Thomas Coulter was an Irish physician, botanist and explorer who discovered Matilija in 1832. He later returned to Ireland and became curator of the herbarium at Trinity College, Dublin.

Photos by Docent Joanne Taylor
Text by Docent Kathy McNeil
Profile by Associate Curator David Kruse-Pickler


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