Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council Plants Resource Page

Plant of the Month - Bush Poppy, Tree Poppy

Leather Root

Bush Poppy, Tree Poppy

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Plant Description

Common Name(s):Bush Poppy, Tree Poppy
Scientific Name:Dendromecon rigida
Family:Papaveraceae
Plant Type:Perennial
Size:up to 12 feet tall
Habitat:Chaparral
Blooms:February to June

Tree Poppy or Bush poppy - Dendromecon rigida is a Native Perennial shrub, and a known fire follower. Bush poppy is a common shrub on dry slopes and stony washes to about 5000' in southern to central California, blooming from April to July. This plant can grow to ten feet in height and width but is commonly a smaller shrub with a relatively thick woody stem and lots of branches. As of 2017 Chesebro Canyon is a great location to view this plant.

The attactive 2.5 inch flowers have four wedge-shaped (obvoate) bright yellow petals with numerous stamens and a pistil that has two stigmas. The flower goes through several transitions before the dispersal of seeds. The flower bud is nodding, becoming erect just prior to flowering. Flowers are cup-shaped at first becoming almost flat as the petals open fully. Flowers appear singly at the end of the leaf stems. There are/were two reddish sepals but they usually fall off after the flower has opened. After pollination, the petals fall off. Seeds are dispersed by wind.

Leaves are alternate, lanceolate to lance-oblong and range up to 4" in length,

Branches can be hidden under a thick layer of narrow, finely toothed green leaves. Native to California, this plant grows along the Pacific coast and the foothills of inland mountain ranges.

It is found more commonly in newly burned areas because its seeds need exposure to fire for germination and is rarely found in mature Chaparral. 

Name Origin:Link to Calfora.net - the best source of this information

Dendrome'con: from the Greek dendron, "tree," and mekon, "poppy," thus literally meaning "tree poppy" (ref genus Dendromecon)

rig'ida/rig'idum/rig'idus: rigid, referring to the stiff leaves


Other Similar Plants:
Prickly Poppy Argemone munita
California Poppy Eschscholzia californica
Yellow Bleeding Heart Ehrendorferia ochroleuca
Matilija Poppy Romneya coulteri
Fire Poppy Papaver californicum

Originally featured: March 2018
Last modified: June 19 2017 18:07:42.
References:
Wildflowers of the Santa Monica Mountains, by Milt McAuley
Flowering Plants: The Santa Monica Mountains, Coastal and Chaparral Regions of Southern California, by Nancy Dale
Images Botanical Terms for Leaves