Papaveraceae (Poppy Family)

This family now includes the Fumariaceae (Fumewort Family), which have some minor differences from the poppies: True poppies have 4 or 6 petals that are all alike, while fumeworts have 2 petals that are different from the other 2. Both usually have 2 sepals. Stamens range from several to many (howzat for exact?) - the pistil, often divided into 2 or more segments, ripens as a unit and produces many seeds.

Our two native species on Montara Mountain include the unique Dicentra formosa - Bleeding Heart, and the well known California State Flower Eschscholzia californica - California Poppy.



Dicentra formosa:
Bleeding Heart

Papaveraceae (Poppy Family)

Flowers: Pink-purple, heart-shaped; 3/4 to 1 inch long, in drooping clusters on 1 to 2 foot stems.

Blooms: March - May

Leaves: Blue-green, fern-like and lacy, 1 foot long; from base of plant forming a bush on larger specimens.

Fruit/Seeds: ??

Location: Damp, shady trails; North Peak Access Road.

Status: Native - UnCommon.

Dicentra formosa
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Further description & Comment: Two feet tall, bush-like at times. Foliage keeps growing after flowers disappear, so watch for the distinctive leaves well into summer.

The root is a long, succulent rhizome that stays close to the surface, and is collected (along with the late season leaves) to make a tincture or tonic useful in strengthening and healing, and as a general narcotic-analgesic for pain and central nervous system disorders. It is used as general tonic for recovery and relaxation from nervousness and the shakes from trauma. It can also give a false positive for opiate use in urine tests. Poppy family, remember?

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Eschscholzia californica:
California Poppy

Papaveraceae (Poppy Family)

Flowers: 4 shiny broad petals, deep orange to pale yellow, often gradiated darker toward the center; closes up at night and during heavy fog.

Blooms: March - October.

Leaves: Silver-green to dark green, sometimes with bluish tinge, purple-stemmed when new; finely divided and lacy.

Fruit/Seeds: ??

Location: Grassy trails throughout the mountain, all elevations.

Status: Native - Common.

Eschscholzia californica
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Further description & Comment: .5 - 2 feet tall. Annual, with new growth beginning in early winter. The new "caps" of young poppies are actually the sepals, which are shed when the flowers blooms out for the first time.
The image below shows the prominent collar where the sepals had been and where the petals attach. Below is a good view of the entire plant. Note the distinctive leaves and the leaf stem coloring.

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Like it's relative Dicentra formosa - (Bleeding Heart), E. californica. can be prepared as a tonic for analgesic and anti-anxiety/sedative use, as it has many of the poppy family compounds without the narcotic opiates.


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