It is that time of year that I can not pass up a little plastic pot of poppies. I know they will not make it in my wet and rainy yard, but that does not dissuade me from bringing them home to admire and love. Many years ago, my friend and neighbor, Laura and I planted double poppies and they came back for a couple of years ... only to vanish later. But I love those double poppies. I have never had luck starting poppies from seed. My solution now is just to enjoy what I can buy at the store in a pot and dream of the double poppy.
The Iceland Poppy (Papaver nudicaule, syn. Papaver croceum, P. miyabeanum, P. amurense, and P. macounii) is a boreal flowering plant. Native to subpolar regions of Europe, Asia and North America, and the mountains of Central Asia (but not in Iceland), Iceland poppies are hardy but short-lived perennials, often grown as biennials, that yield large, papery, bowl-shaped, lightly fragrant flowers supported by hairy, one foot, curved stems among feathery blue-green foliage 1-6 inches long. They were first described by botanists in 1759. The wild species blooms in white or yellow, and is hardy from USDA Zones 3a-10b.
"The Matilija Poppy must be conceded the queen of all flowers," wrote Mary Elizabeth Parsons in her charming 1897 book, The Wild Flowers of California. What caught her eye were the huge-four to eight inches across-chalk white, uniquely fragrant blossoms. This stunning flower has six petals that seem to be made of soft crepe paper that has been crumpled and then pleated. The center, a golden cluster of dozens of pollen bearing stamen, elicits the descriptive popular name 'fried-egg" plant.
Matilija (pronounced ma-til-li-ha) is the lovely name given by native Americans, who appreciated its beauty and value as a medicinal plant. In The late nineteenth century, the renowned botanist Alice Eastwood named it trichocalyx-trico meaning "hair" and calyx meaning "sepals" for the three leafy parts covering the bud. (Below)
Beautiful poppy images below found at The families of flowering plants by L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz
I love these stylized poppy illustrations, so light and airy.