(C) Enzie Shahmiri
Every time the trolley leaves the ACT V parking lot in Laguna Beach, I pass this bush with these beautiful flowers. Their texture reminds me of poppies and thanks to a reader, I finally now know what they are. Called Matilija Poppy this native Californian is a shrubby perennial with heavy branches and a woody base. The shrub can grow up to 8' tall waving it's lovely papery blooms with every breeze of the wind.
Matilija Poppy has been called the “Queen of California Flowers,” (Mary Elizabeth Parsons, The Wild Flowers of California, 1897). The large white blooms are the size of a saucer. The petals look like wrinkled crepe paper, the center is a bright yellow disk. Romneya "White Cloud" is one shrub that would be great as a backdrop plant in a garden. The yellow center is as large as a golf ball and all fuzzy looking. Real pretty!
The tiny seeds of this plant are difficult to get to germinate and I was surprised to read that at the Tree of Life nursery (off Ortega Highway), pine needles are burned across the tops of the freshly sown seed flats to help the seeds to germinate. After that treatment seeds germinate within a few days. That might explain why we don't see this native California plant more often in our area. The good news is that once established White Cloud is very easy to grow in the garden and requires little care.