Californian poppy

California poppy, california poppy, poppy seed, Uses of Californian poppy , Eschscholzia californica, herbs for health

Eschscholzia californica Papaveraceae.

A perennial in its native United States, Californian poppy grows as an annual or biennial in Europe, where it has been cultivated since its introduction in 1790. Its attractive flowers have made it a Javourite with gardeners. The erect stem grows to a height if 60cm and is covered in long, serrated, bluish green leaves, and crowned with a solitary orange, yellow, pink or red flower in summer. The fruit, a lined capsule, splits itself open when ripe, scattering the seeds.

Parts used

  • Stems, leaves and flowers
  • The aerial parts - stems, leaves and flowers - are collected from July to September.
  • These are then dried and broken into fragments to be used for making infusions, liquid extracts, capsules and tinctures.
  • Californian poppy is often combined with other sedative plants, such as passionflower and valerian, in herbal preparations.


For internal use

TO TREAT sleeping problems, nervous exhaustion, bedwetting INFUSION Put 1 teaspoon of the dried plant into a cup of boiling water. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Strain. Drink 1-2 cups in the evening.

LIQUID EXTRACT Take 1-2ml in a glass of water in the evening.

CAPSULES (50-75mg dry extract) Take 1-2 capsules just before going to bed.

TINCTURE (1:4 in 45% alcohol) Take 10 drops, three times a day in a little cold water after meals, and up to 20 drops at bedtime.



The Californian poppy, like all members of the Papaveraceae family of plants, contains a large number of alkaloids. It is also rich in flavonoids, including the various carotenoids, that are responsible for the bright colours of its flowers.

Medicinal uses

Californian poppy preparations are widely recommended for the treatment of nervous disorders and for repeated bedwetting in children. Taken orally, they have long be used to help to induce sleep and to facilitate a deeper level of sleepactions supported by animal research published in Planta Medica in 1991. The plant is used either on its own or in conjunction with valerian, passionflower and olive tree.

Californian poppy is also reputed to have anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties.


A hardy plant, the Californian poppy can be grown easily from seed, planted either from spring to early summer, or towards the end .of summer. It thrives in well-drained, sandy soil and prefers to be placed in a warm, sunny position.


It is advisable to consult a medical herbalist before taking the plant.

Because of the sedative effect of Californian poppy, you should avoid operating machinery or driving a car while taking it.

Californian poppy preparations should not be taken when pregnant.


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