- Author: Erin Mahaney
One flower that I’ve tried to grow in my yard, and failed, is the Matilija Poppy (Romneya coulteri). I simply couldn’t give it the sun and space that the poppy requires. But there are no hard feelings in this relationship—seeing it happily blooming elsewhere in town never fails to make me smile.
The Matilija has spectacular 4” to 8” blossoms comprised of 5-6 white petals, which appear to have the texture of crepe paper, and a vibrant yellow center of stamens. Not surprisingly, it is often referred to as the “fried egg” flower.
Native to portions of southern California and Baja California, the Matilija is a perennial that doesn’t require much water and tolerates many soils. The plant grows to 6’ to 8’ feet tall, spreading by rhizomes. It can be tricky to get started, but once it gets established it can be invasive. It needs space!
Seeing a patch of Matilija cheerfully blooming is like seeing California sunshine in a flower. Or as the Los Angeles Times (5/28/2010) put it more eloquently, the Matilija is, “without rival, the biggest, silliest, loveliest and most poignant of California wildflowers.” I couldn’t agree more.