Garden Alphabet: Matilija Poppy (Romneya)

It is a big surprise that these huge plants and flowers are actually California natives. Typical natives here are small in stature to preserve the rare moisture we receive here. These are huge show-offs though. They make quite a statement in anyone’s garden. The original photo for this entry was taken way back in 2003 at the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers and Native Plants gardens and it was the first time I had ever seen them. The bees were also very obliging for my photos, showing up and posing in nearly every one.

Garden Alphabet: Matilija Poppy (Romneya) | A Gardener's Notebook with Douglas E. Welch #flower #garden


Romneya /ˈrɒmnə/[1] is a genus of flowering plants belonging to the poppy family (Papaveraceae). There are two species in genusRomneya, which was named for Irish astronomer John Thomas Romney Robinson.[2] They are known commonly as Matilija poppies(/məˈtɪlɨhɑː/ mə-til-i-hah) or tree poppies and are native to southern California and northern Mexico.

They are perennial subshrubs with woody stems. They may grow to a height of 2.5 meters (8 ft) and a width of 1 m (35 in), with the flowers up to 13 cm (5 in) across. The silvery green leaves are deeply cut, with a small fringe of hairs at the margins.

They are notable for their large white flowers with intense yellow centers, blooming in summer. Romneya produce the largest flowers of any members of the poppy family.[3] These flowers prefer a warm, sunny spot and fertile soil with good water drainage. They are not easily grown but once established are difficult to remove. In the wild, they are known as “fire followers” as they can be frequently, but not exclusively, found in burned areas.[4] It is also known as the “fried egg flower” or “fried egg plant”.[5] —

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Previously in Garden Alphabet: