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Learn about California Poppy

Botanical name: Eschscholzia californica
Other names:

California poppy has a reputation of being a milder, non-addictive alternative to other poppies, and can be used for pain relief, anxiety and hysteria.

The native Americans use California poppy for colic, sleeplessness and griping stomach pains. It is often used to counter excitability and nervousness in children, and has promise for hyperactive children as well. When used as a tea before bed, California poppy promotes long, restful sleep and is often used as a treatment for insomnia. This wonderful herb can also be smoked for relaxation.

As it is completely safe, mild and non-addictive, this gentle poppy is completely legal and has the potential to be of benefit in assisting with opiate addiction and withdrawal: drinking strong tea or smoking the herb as often as needed, has been used to help overcome heroine, morphine and opium cravings. It has also been known to assist in interrupting cannabis and tobacco habits.


Boiling water onto 2-3 teaspoons of herb, steep for 5-10 minutes. Drink 3 times daily.

Growing Conditions:

California Poppy thrives in sandy soils and can tolerate dry to drought conditions. It requires full sun and a well drained soil. The flowering season is over spring and summer, but it will flower for longer if water is supplied and it does not get too hot during the summer period. There is now a range of flower colours available, including red, yellow, orange and pink, courtesy of plant breeders. It is considered quite easy to grow and a plant that has few pest problems. To harvest the plant for later use, collect the stems, leaves and flower heads and dry in the shade.

This flowering plant does well as an annual in some areas and as a perennial, in climates similar to its native range. It survives mild winters similar to temperate climates, but may completely die off in colder conditions, particularly where there is frost. However, it self-seeds readily and should return the following year. After flowering, the seed pod will split into two and release the many seeds. If you would like to control seed dispersal simply collect the seed capsules before they open. The seeds are easy to grow and once you have decided where you would like the flower show, simply throw the seeds on the ground and water, or wait for the first rain of the season. No need to dig in the soil and cover them.

Reference: Ray Thorpe (2005), Happy High Herbs, p15; David Hoffman (1995), The New Holistic Herbal, p186; Michael Tierra (1998), Planetary Herbology, p356

California Poppy

California Poppy Common Uses

California Poppy Actions

California Poppy Recipes

California Poppy Precautions

Avoid in pregnancy and breastfeeding. May increase activity of Benzodiazapines and CNS depressants- use with caution. Long-term use not recommended. Use with caution in depression.

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