Eschscholzia californica maritima

The maritima subspecies of California poppy is not even really recognized by many official publications. Apparently it's had its ins and outs with the botanists. The argument goes that at some point you have to make a choice to be inclusive at higher levels of nomenclature and not open yourself up finer and finer levels of distinction within subspecies that one could spend several lifetimes untangling.

Gardeners on the other hand, can afford to have those levels of distinction.

I've tried to illustrate with these pictures the luminous beauty of the maritima subspecies. These photos were shot on an overcast day with my phone camera and were not retouched beyond cropping to an aesthetically pleasing proportion, so I'm not trying to play retouching tricks.

I hope that you are noticing the luminous edges of the petals and the color shading from edge to center. That's one factor that makes this an easily identifiable subspecies from its inland cousin, which is a flatter and more uniform orange.

If you were to go to a big box store or even a dedicated nursery near your home, chances are that the only poppy seeds you could buy would be the inland variety. The seeds might have been grown in the Netherlands, and if you lived near the coast you'd have lost the opportunity this year to grow something surpassing of merely pretty. You might have lost it in perpetuity, if your sudden influx of inland poppy genes swamped any local remnant population of the coastal variety.

It might be that gardeners and ecologists always live with a bit of sadness for what we have lost and a bit of hope the we can get it back.

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