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Botanical Art Worldwide: America's Flora

Matilija Poppy

Romneya coulteri

As soon as I saw these pure white blossoms glistening in the morning sunlight against the deep blue sky, I knew that I had to make the Matilija poppy, Romneya coulteri, my next painting. As I very much like to paint California native plants, this plant, known as the “showiest” California wildflower, definitely attracted my attention.

Since I have always enjoyed painting white flowers, I was especially attracted to this large white blossom that is loved and admired by Californians who are familiar with it. It is nicknamed the “fried egg flower,” as it resembles a fried egg! This California native is the largest of any poppy. Its blossom measures at least six inches across and has six white crinkly petals with a deep yellow center made up of yellow stamens and a single green pistil. 

These plants may grow to eight feet tall. If the plant is happy in its location, it will colonize. Once established, it can spread over a large area. The matilija poppy inhabits dry washes, canyons and is even found growing along the edge of freeway ramps. In the wild, they are known as “fire followers”, as they frequently pop up after fires, in areas that have recently burned. They grow at an angle often on slopes, and look as though, they are reaching toward the sun.

This poppy that is so much loved for its showy flowers holds a special place in my heart, as it was a joy to paint.

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Worldwide-Shaeffer Gilly Romneya coulteri

Romneya coulteri

Matilija Poppy

Watercolor on paper

7.75 x 9

©2017 Gilly Shaeffer

2024 ASBA - All rights reserved

All artwork copyrighted by the artist. Copying, saving, reposting, or republishing of artwork prohibited without express permission of the artist.

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