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Published: Thursday, August 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Plants of Merit: romneya coulteri

  • Romneya coulteri is sometimes called the fried egg plant.

    Sandra Schumacher

    Romneya coulteri is sometimes called the fried egg plant.

WHAT: Romneya coulteri is native to Southern California and was named to commemorate Thomas Coulter, an Irish botanist and explorer who travelled California and Mexico in search of new plants in the early 1800s.
It is commonly called the Matilija poppy whose flower has been described as looking like a big fried egg.
The flowers are magical reaching widths of 7 inches during a season that begins in the spring and lingers until late fall.
Romneya attracts bees and butterflies but is deer tolerant, an important factor in the Pacific Northwest.
This plant does not like its roots disturbed, so it's a good practice when planting to coax it into the planting hole gently. It thrives in dry soil and needs no fertilizer.
Cut it down to approximately 2 inches in the early spring, and it will begin to rebound quickly from winter.
The first specimen was collected by Coulter in 1833 and those specimens went back with him to Dublin. He died in 1843 before the plants were classified, so his successor at Trinity College, Prof. W. H. Harvey, classified them.
He had this to say about Romneya: "a fine papaverceous plant ... distinct from any hitherto recorded from that country."
SUN OR SHADE: This plant thrives in a hot dry climate, so plant it in full sun.
SIZE: The gray-green stems will reach 5- to 6-feet high and 6- to 8-feet wide.
SEE IT: At the WSU Master Gardener Demonstration Garden at Jennings Memorial Park, 6915 Armar Road, Marysville.
Sandra Schumacher
Story tags » Gardening

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