Adoption of the California State Flower

April 6 is Designated California Poppy Day

Over 100 years ago, on December 12, 1890, the members of the California State Floral Society voted for a flower that they thought would best serve the State of California as an official emblem. There were three contestants; the California poppy (Eschscholzia), the Mariposa lily (Calochortus) and the Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri).

In her article,California's Esteemed Golden Poppy, Naomi Mathews writes "...the California Poppy won the esteemed title of 'Official California State Flower' by an overwhelming landslide." The showyMatilija poppy(also called the giant poppy) received no votes and the beautifulMariposa lilyreceived only three votes.

It took almost 13 years for the California Legislature to get around to adopting the winning golden poppy as the California State flower. The golden poppy,Eschscholzia, was selected as the official State flower of California by an act of the Legislature on March 2, 1903. In 1973, the law was amended to designate April 6 of each year as California Poppy Day.

Though the act stopped short of naming a particular species, the California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is the variety generally thought of as the official State flower.