How the Golden poppy was made California’s state flower in 1903

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California Poppy - California's state flower

Note: This article may feature affiliate links, and purchases made may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. Find out more here.

California Poppy: The Golden poppy made state flower

From the San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, California) March 3, 1903

Governor signs the bill and a celebration is held by those who are interested

SACRAMENTO, March 2, 1903  — The golden poppy is now the official State flower, Governor Pardee having signed the bill designating it as California’s floral emblem.

Senator Smith of Los Angeles and Assemblyman Bliss of Alameda, who introduced the measure, placed a heap of poppies on the desk of the presiding officer of the Senate tonight, and the Governor’s message announcing his approval of the bill was then read.

Mrs. J. G. Lemmon of Berkeley, representing the organization that asked for the enactment, was escorted to a seat beside the presiding officer, and, at Senator Smith’s request, Senator Shortridge presented her with the gold-mounted quill with which Governor Pardee put his name to the bill.

Mrs. Lemmon said that twenty-five states had designated their State flowers, having been urged to do so by the National Moral Emblem Society.

The poppy bill was passed at two former sessions of the Legislature, but each time, the Governor declined to approve it. Assemblyman Bliss closed the little celebration by reading some verses about the golden poppy.

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Seeing the California poppy fields

Osborne County Farmer (Osborne, Kansas) March 19, 1903

A sea of gold that rivals the mighty blue Pacific.

“Poppies! ‘ere’s where you gets your golden poppies, only live cents a bunch, ‘alf a dime!” and a ragged little flower vendor, with his faded cap perched slightly awry on his tousled hair, and his grimy hands filled with clusters of satin-petaled poppies, accosts you, hoping to make a sale.

For it is poppy time, and these beautiful blossoms, so typical of the Golden State, of which they are the state flower, are beginning to show themselves in brilliant patches in the foothills country, and soon the uplands will be carpeted with as royal a carpet as was ever spread for a king.

I wish that every visitor to southern California might catch his first glimpse of the poppy fields as I did mine, some eighteen years ago, when Pasadena was but a tiny settlement of a few congenial “first families” set down in the midst of luxuriant orange groves and thrifty vineyards, undisturbed by railroads, electric cars or sidewalks.

The foothill country had not been invaded by man, and in the late winter and early springtime the golden sea of poppy bloom, then at its flood tide, extended for miles and miles along the undulating foothills slopes.

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