In all of my previous posts of CA poppies, I either talk about or show the characteristic red ring that distinguishes this poppy from other Eschscholzia spp. found in California. The red ring is particularly noticeable once the flower has gone to seed. I got the "red ring" terminology from Vern Yadon's collaborative Wildflowers of Monterey County. Until researching for this post, I didn't know any other name for this distinctive flower structure.
As a backstory, I've been growing poppies at home this summer, along with baby blue eyes and a small lupine, from a wildflower seed packet handed to me by the Monterey City forestry folks at a local farmers' market. The packet mixture listed non-native wildflowers, like corn poppy (Papaver rhoeas), which did not come up. The lupine went to seed over a month ago, which mirrors what I've seen out in the wild. I suspected the poppies and baby blue eyes, two flowers I generally associate as spring bloomers, were only in bloom this late in the year because I was watering them. So, I was chuffed to find these poppies blooming out in the wild down the coast.
What caught my attention about my garden "wildflower" poppies is that they have a small ring, but they're not red. With this in mind, once I found the poppies shown here down at Rocky Creek, I proceeded to check for rings. It was interesting because there were gradient areas where the red rings were prominent, then intergrade with partially red rings, then rings with no red. I was actually hoping what I was growing at home and what I found with non-red rings were tufted poppy (Eschscholzia caespitosa). Nope.
I did an internet search for Eschscholzia californica with "red ring" and only came up with my own blog posts. Jepson eFlora mentions "receptacle rim" and "spreading rim". The USDA Plant Guide PDF talks about "torus rim" and "collar-like pedestal". Neither mentions the color of the rim. After some more searching, including checking all of Jepson eFlora's 12 Eschscholzia spp. and ssp. descriptions and Calflora's 17 records with its linked CalPhotos, I've come to the conclusion that only CA poppies have rings, aka rims, regardless of the color. If anyone knows differently, I'd love to hear from you. I did find references to a non-Jepson recognized Eschscholzia mexicana (aka Eschscholzia californica ssp. mexicana) having small rims, but its natural wild areas are in southeast CA to other states (as a side note, it's funny that Lee Dittmann is the photographer in my small rims AZ link, because his name was brought up in e-mail conversation with a retired Coe Park ranger regarding 30 years of erroneously reported elegant piperia that I caught). I'm left wondering if the promulgation of wildflower seed packets has introduced a genetic mix, such that native versus non-native can no longer be separated.
Genetics is fascinating. Red rings, non-red rings, white petals, red petals, two-toned petals, etc. How about three petals?