California poppy as seen along the Old Highway at Catherin Creek in the Columbia River Gorge......June 3, 2009. The long, maturing fruits can be seen in this photo.
The state flower of California, California poppy is a showy perennial wildflower of open places. The genus is named for Johann Friedrich Eschscholz, who as a naturalist and physician, was part of a Russian team that explored the California coast in 1816.
The taproot is long and thin (like a thin carrot), and is a deep orange in color. The herbage is smooth and glaucous, with one-several stems spreading or rising from 10-50 dm in height. The ternately pinnatifid leaves are found at the base of the plant as well as on the stems. Individual leaflets are linear.
The flower stems are 6-20 cm long with a spreading, rim-like receptacle (1-2 mm wide) below the petals. Free sepals are absent, but the 4 petals are cuneate-obovate in shape. From 8-40 mm long, the petals are a pale to brilliant yellow or orange. Flowers are bowl shaped, and they open to 5 cm across. The flowers open during the day, and close at night or in cloudy weather. The seed pods are long and thin, splitting on maturity to scatter the seeds. Plants may flower from April to December, especially near the coast.
California poppy is a plant of dry open places, such as roadsides and disturbed fields.
California poppy is native from the Columbia River Gorge south to southern California. I believe this is considered native but it has been widely cultivated and has been known to escape cultivation to become a pretty wildflower/weed.
In the Columbia River Gorge, it is found between the elevations of 100'-1000' from Washougal, WA east to about Horsethief State Park (WA).