California Poppy Reserve
April 16, 2006
|An seemingly endless field of poppies near the California Poppy Reserve
Todd and I drove down to the California Poppy Reserve near Lancaster, CA on Sunday.
I had never been there before and have been trying to fit in the trip for a couple of
years now. The Preserve is a beautiful piece of land in the Antelope Valley high
desert. Here is one of the most consistent California poppy blooms year after year.
California poppies became our state flower in 1903. California Indians cherished the
poppy as both a source of food and for oil they extracted from the plant. Its botanical
name, Eschsholtzia californica, was given by naturalist Adelbert Von Chamisso, who
dropped anchor in San Francisco in 1816 in a bay surrounded by hills of poppies. They
are also sometimes known as the flame flower, la amapola, and copa de oro (cup of
gold). They grow wild throughout most of California but only in huge concentrations in
certain areas like the Reserve.
We arrived at the Poppy Reserve mid-morning only to find not much of anything
blooming. We went to the visitor center then hiked the north and south poppy loop
trails. We saw a couple of small poppy patches and some clover and lupine blooming in
small numbers. The poppies were mostly closed up tight due to the strong wind but
some hills were covered with goldfields and were beautiful.
We then drove west of the Reserve and only about a mile away we found a spectacular
field of poppies blooming. And across the valley to the north we saw another bright
orange patch. It's hard to describe how brilliantly orange the poppies against a desert
mountain can be... you can see it from miles and miles away! We drove across the
valley and sure enough, near the intersection of Gaskell and 195th there was an
incredible display of poppies and goldfields.