Matilija poppy is a glabrous, shrubby perennial,
heavy branched and woody at the base, growing to 8' tall. The
showy white flowers are the largest of any plant native to California,
and look like fried eggs. There are 5-8 per stem and the six petals
are usually crinkled with many yellow stamens and a single large pistil.
The three sepals are glabrous, which differentiates it from the
other Romneya species, trichocalyx, which has bristly
or appressed-hairy sepals. The leaves are alternate and have 3-5
main segments which are somewhat dentate or cleft. Matilija poppy
inhabits dry washes and canyons below 4000' in coastal sage scrub and
chaparral away from the immediate coast. It is an occasional resident
in the Peninsular Ranges, but is more common in the Santa Ana Mts to
San Diego Co., being found also in the Santa Monica Mts where it was
probably begun by transplanting. It blooms from May to July. The
name Matilija (pronounced ma-TIL-i-ha or ma-til-EE-ha) appears to be
of Chumash origin, and I have seen one source that relates the name
to a Chief Matilija who lived in Ventura County. The name is used also
for Matilija Canyon above the community of Ojai and Matilija Creek in
the Los Padres National Forest.
Click here for Latin name derivations: 1) Romneya
Pronunciation: ROM-nee-a KOLE-ter-eye.
Click here for Botanical