Eschscholzia californica – vivid flowers with a nuclear connection…


I was asked recently where the name for this colourful and superbly-silky-soapy-flower came from and had to look it up. I had assumed the tag ‘californica’ at least gave a clue as to its heritage and it is in fact native to America and Mexico and is the State Flower of California. The display, above, by the Princess of Wales’ Conservatory shows them commingling with cacti and agave, beschoneria and such like, which might itself have been a clue.

“Eschscholzia californica was the first named member of the genus Eschscholzia, named by the German botanist Adelbert von Chamisso after the Baltic German botanist Johann Friedrich von Eschscholtz, his friend and colleague on Otto von Kotzebue’s scientific expedition to California and the greater Pacific in mid-1810s aboard the Russian ship Rurik

E. californica is drought-tolerant, self-seeding, and easy to grow in gardens. It is best grown as an annual, in full sun and sandy, well-drained, poor soil. Horticulturalists have produced numerous cultivars with a range of colors and blossom and stem forms. These typically do not breed true on reseeding. Seeds are often sold as mixtures”

By way of an interesting connection – very Q.I.

“Kotzebue named an island in the Marshall Islands as Eschscholtz Atoll. This was renamed in 1946 to Bikini Atoll.”

So now we know…


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