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california native plants are poppies for wildflowers and native plant ecosystem

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California Poppy Reserve

The California Poppy was named the California State Flwoer in 1903. Prior to that time great fields of opooies were found throughout the state, but today, poppies grow in many areas, but the only large fields are in the Antelope Valley -- in northeastern Los Angeles County.

To see the glorious fields of poppies that blanket the California rolling hills and valley in Antelope Valley is breathtaking. We visited the Poppy Reserve this spring, just days before the optimum bloom, but to breathe the fresh air, see the sweeping vistas of wildflowers (many species in addition to poppies make this area their habitat)...and to examine the closeup beauty of nature's flag that tells passing pollinators "Here I am, here I am" is a delight and inspiration.

California Poppy Reserve
Although the wildflower season generally lasts from mid-March through mid-May, the park is open year-round from sunrise to sunset. Eight miles of trails through the quiet, rolling hills make the park a wonderful place to hike and explore any season.

The California Poppy

Eschscholtzia californica
  • 4 to 8 petals
  • deep orange to yellow to white and variegated
  • 6" to 18" high.
  • Annuals, perennial and biennial
The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve is an 1800 acre state reserve nestled in the Antelope Buttes 15 miles west of Lancaster, California. This is the most consistent poppy-bearing land. It was established to protect and perpetuate outstanding displays of native wildflowers, particularly the California Poppy, but additional wildflowers and native plants include:

  • owl's clover
  • lupine
  • goldfields
  • cream cups
  • coreopsis
  • and an abundance of desert grasses
California Poppy Reserve California Poppy Reserve wildflowers burrowing owl
The California Poppy
Owl's Clover and Goldfields
Burrowing Owl

Be prepared for strong winds and bright California sunshine -- bring sunblock, a hat and jacket! There are high populations of the Mojave Green rattlesnakes, so staying on the winding trails is important. You'll also see a variety of birds, ants, beetles, and maybe a shy coyote.

Seven miles of trails including a paved section for wheelchair access, wind through the wildflower fields.

The interpretive center and gift shop features educational displays of many of the plants and wildlife found on the Reserve. It highlights the efforts of Jane Pinheiro, whose efforts led the conservation efforts that helped establish the reserve. She labored untiringly to protect and preserve countless areas of wildflowers, Joshua trees and open land. Her dream of a poppy park where our state flower could be preserved was finally realized. Many of her paintings are displayed that show the beauty and diversity of the wildflowers she loved.

Wildlife that visit the Poppy Reserve are seldom seen, but if you look closely you might see signs of some of the more pervasive ants, beetles, and butterflies. Larger wildlife includes the bobcat, cottontail rabbit, coyote, roadrunner, painted lady butterfly, Mojave rattlesnake.

Overhead or visiting the native smorgasbord of blossoms, seeds and their residents, you can see or hear the red-tailed hawk, meadowlark, white-crowned sparrows and crows. You can spot holes in the pathways and nearby grassy borders that were dug by desert rats, burrowing owls and Antelope ground squirrels, and beetles. Lizards, California quail, ladybird beetles and snakes scurry through the grass and native plants.

The winds and rain are part of the spring experience at the Poppy Reserve -- so dress warmly, take an umbrella, and by all means, bring your camera! This is a sight for the spirit as well as for tired eyes

For more articles about NATURE EXPLORATION

Leaves of 3 Leave them be
Think Global - Act Local!
Certify Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat
Last Child in the Woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder
Favorite Quotes about Nature
Bio-Diesel solving energy shortages