As a newcomer to California, I was quickly informed by both co-workers and students that it was illegal to pick the state flower, the California poppy. Since then, I've dutifully left poppies in the middle of pathways and kept them out of garden flower arrangements. However, today that all changed. I admit, I pulled out some poppies at our school garden at the East Palo Alto Charter School! Before you call the police hotline to turn me in, let me explain. Today, I learned that the "can't-pick-a-poppy" law is a myth! According the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, as long as you're on private property and have permission of the landowner, you're entirely within your right to pick, move, or uproot a California poppy. What a revelation to me!
Although I certainly plan to keep most of our poppies intact, it's nice to have the option to clear some out when they take over a path or bed! I also look forward to using them in student art projects, like flower pounding. However, you'll have to wish me luck convincing the students that it's okay! Sometimes myths can be pretty ingrained.