Matilija Poppy (Romneya)

This is one of the flowers that — the first time you see it — looks artificial or fake. Surely, nothing can look look so perfect and so much like tissue paper in real life? Fortunately, though, they are real and, if you live in California or a similar climate, you might even be able to grow them in your own garden.

I don’t have any matilija poppies growing in my garden, as I don’t really have enough sun for them, but luckily a nearby neighbor has them as part of their drought tolerant garden. I regularly walk a route that passes by this garden and I am always watching out for these to bloom. Just last week, I was rewarded with many beautiful flowers and had my camera ready — as I often do when out walking.

Interesting Plant: Matilija Poppy (Romneya)

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Photos: Douglas E. Welch

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Romneya /ˈrɒmnə/[1] is a genus of flowering plants belonging to the poppy family (Papaveraceae). There are two species in genus Romneya, which was named for Irish astronomer John Thomas Romney Robinson.[2] They are known commonly as Matilija poppies (/məˈtɪlhɑː/ 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 (8.2 feet) and a width of 1 m (39 in), with the flowers up to 13 cm (5.1 in) across. The silvery greenleaves 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]


The two species are:

 More information on Matilija Poppy (Romneya):

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Previously in the Interesting Plant series: 

Interesting Plant is a series from A Gardener’s Notebook blog and podcast that highlights the most interesting plants I find in my Internet and real-world travels — Douglas