Thursday, July 28, 2011

California Tree Poppy - Not only for California!


Romneya coulteri
Also called Matilija Poppy. A fast growing to invasive ( on sandy soil ) shrubby perennial, reaching a maximum size of 10 x 10 ( rarely over 8 ) feet, that is native to California. Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 6.5 feet; first year - 5 feet; 3 years - 6.5 x 6.5 feet. They can spread quickly due to underground stems once established.
The finely-cut or pinnate leaves, up to 8 inches across are silvery-gray to blue-gray.
It may be evergreen in mild climates.
The large, fragrant, white ( golden-yellow stamens ) flowers, up to 9 inches across, are borne mid summer through mid autumn ( may start as early as late spring in very mild climates ).
Hardy zones 7 to 10 ( 6 on protected sites ) on a warm sunny site on fertile, light, well drained soil.
It is not common in eastern North America but has been found to be hardy, even thriving in zone 6 parts of southern Ontario, tolerating -10 F or colder against a south facing well on deep, sandy, very well drained soil where snow melt water does not pool. Mulching deeply ( ex. pine needles ) is recommended during winter to protect the roots and crown.
Plants are typically cut back to 6 inch height during late autumn or early spring to encourage dense vigorous growth and improved blooming.
They can be slow to established and must be planted during spring in cooler climates.
Propagation is from cuttings or seed. The seeds are difficult to germinate and usually need fire ( plant often colonizes burns in its native habitat ). In autumn you can make the seeds germinate by mixing them in moist potting soil wrapped in strong foil; then burn pine needles on top for 1/2 hour. They should sprout in 3 weeks. Root cuttings can also be taken during late winter and placed in sandy soil.

* photo taken by Chooch Weston near Dresden, Ontario, Canada - Jul 2011

* photos taken by Jean Pawek @ CalPhotos

* historic archive photo

* excellent video found on Youtube

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