John's Nature Pictures

Fire Poppy

Here is a rare and unusual flower. It is known as a "fire follower". The seeds can lay dormant in the ground for decades. Only if a fire passes over the land where they grow, then next spring they will bloom. By the second year after the fire very few will pop up, and after that they go dormant again. They actually require fire in order to reproduce. They are endemic to the coast mountains between San Francisco and San Diego. By squelching wildfires in this area man is making these plants extinct. This one is especially weird because it has an extra petal, poppies have four petals. They also have exposed sex organs, see the green ovary above the petals?     Papaver californicum  (Poppy family)

Picture #053 -  copyright © 1995 by John Sherman


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