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California Poppies

Apr 17, 2024

I’ve just returned home after spending nearly 2 months in California. Oh how I love that state! The people, the mountains, the sunshine, and of course the bright and bountiful flowers found everywhere.

Standing in wildflowers found along a sidewalk in Oakland, CA.

There are many things that impress me about California, and San Francisco in particular. One of those things is how at every street corner, at nearly every shop, or even alley way,  beauty, spirit and activism seems to be remarkably woven together.
Take the Women’s Centre building for instance:


To get an idea of the scale of these murals, notice the two people standing in front of the building. Not only are the paintings gorgeous in their bright colour, they are rich with meaning. The sign held by one of the characters reads, “More funds for women’s health research”.

What I love most about the murals on this building is the effort to illustrate diverse representation within women’s health. In the paintings we have a woman in what looks like a doctor or nurse uniform with her tools of technology behind her. Next, a woman with a placard fighting for more funding; then a woman performing energy healing.


When not awe-struck by all the art my eyes, as usual, settle on what weeds are bursting through the sidewalk cracks. Here it was loud and clear:

California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) were abundant everywhere! This beautiful plant also grows wildy all over Salt Spring Island. It somehow made sense to see so much of this beautiful flower that is also a sedative and helpful for insomnia. San Francisco is so stimulating, it was easy to never sleep with all the great people, food, music, and creative city life.  Of course the flower would be plentiful on every corner generously offering itself to the human aid. Plants are amazing that way–they grow where they are most needed.

Unlike it’s cousin the Opium poppy, California poppy is not a narcotic nor addictive.  In fact, it normalizes the nervous system, making it a safe choice for sleeplessness, anxiety and nervousness, even in small children. I have mostly used it in cases of irritability, heat congestion in the liver coupled by insomnia or restless sleep. I have used it in a small handful of cases for sciatica and other sharp shooting pains and it has worked very well.
I’ve made a fresh tincture with it, and also brewed it as a tea. If you have it growing around you, harvest the entire plant (flower, stem, leaves and all), chop it, and dry it for tea. Beware, it is VERY bitter! I combine it with mint, or some other palate-pleasing herb to buffer the intense flavour.

Speaking of, it’s beautiful outside, and I’m eager to be back on the island. I’m off to walk the garden before night falls, and plan next weeks post.

Have you tried California poppy? Let me know if you do. Write comments & questions below. I look forward to hearing from you.


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