- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Whenever you look at the Matilija poppy, you think of a fried egg.
White, crepelike flowers (the egg whites) circle a cluster of gold stamens (the yolk). Sunny-side up!
Native to southern California and Baja California in Mexico, it's named for Chief Matilija of the Chumash tribe that thrived in Venture County thousands of years ago. Irish physician-botanist-explorer Thomas Coulter discovered it in 1832 and named it Romneya coulteri. Historians say Coulter later returned to his native Ireland to become a herbarium curator at Trinity College, Dublin.
The majestic and unusual plant cannot be missed. It can reach a height of seven feet.
Honey bees don't miss it, either. The pollen masters absolutely love this perennial. Sometimes, when the wind gusts at 10 to 15 miles an hour, the egg whites look like a frothy petticoat or resemble the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe's dress billowing over a subway grate in New York City.
But if it's a sunny-side up day, look closely and you'll see a bee ballet troupe performing over the poppy.