Saving California Poppy Seeds

Eschscholzia californica, better known as California poppy, is a perennial and annual poppy native to the United States. This poppy is the official state flower of California, and different than Papaver somniferum, which is better known as Opium poppy. While California poppies are just as easy to grow as opium poppies, saving seeds from California poppies is a little bit different.

California poppy flower

California poppies are low-growing plants and the flowers are not as large and dramatic as the flowers of opium poppies. Another difference is the seed pod for California poppies which you can see in the background of this picture. California poppy seed pods look like okra seed pods that have been put on a diet. The thin seed pods emerge from the center of the flower after it has been pollinated.

California Poppy Seeds

Again, these seed pods are different than the other poppies I’ve collected and saved seeds from. Here is a seed pod that has split open and spilled all but two of its seeds.

California Poppy Flower Seeds

Here is an unripe California poppy seed pod next to some seed pods that have opened and some California poppy seeds. If you look at the pictures and video for the post on collecting and saving cleome seeds you may notice a similarity. The two plants share similar seed pod structures and even the seeds look a little alike.

In the post on saving cleome seeds I recommend pressing the seed pod between your fingers and feeling for the split or “crack” of the seed pod to know whether it is ready to harvest seeds from. I find the same method applies with California poppies. You’ll know the pod is ready to collect seeds from when it splits when gentle pressure is applied.

You can also collect several of the tan-colored seed pods and place them into a bowl or paper bag. You’ll hear them little cracking sounds as the pods split open and some of the seeds can be spit out a distance at this point, so keep the seeds out of reach of children and pets.

It may also be a good idea to wear gloves when handling the seed pods that haven’t dried completely yet to avoid having your skin come into contact with the milky sap of these plants.

One of the fun aspects for me about learning how to save seeds is that once you’ve learned how to save seeds from a handful of plants, you can use previous experience to learn how to identify the seed pods and seeds of just about any plant.

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