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Gary L. Hannan & Curtis Clark, except as noted

Annual to small tree; sap colorless, yellow, orange, red, or white. Leaf: basal, cauline, or both, simple and entire, toothed, or lobed, or 1–3-pinnate-dissected or compound; cauline generally alternate; stipules 0. Inflorescence: terminal, 1-flowered or cyme, raceme, or panicle; bracts generally present. Flower: bisexual, radial, bilateral, or biradial; sepals 2–3, shed after flower; petals generally 2 × sepals in number; stamens generally many; ovary 1, superior, chamber 1, style 0 or 1, stigmas or lobes 2–many, ovules few to many. Fruit: capsule, dehiscent by valves or pores, ± nut, or breaking transversely into 1-seeded, indehiscent units. Seed: fleshy appendage generally 0.
25–30 genera, 200 species: northern temperate, northern tropics; some cultivated (Papaver, Eschscholzia, Hunnemannia), source of opiates. Stylomecon moved to Papaver. Corydalis, Dicentra, Fumaria in Fumariaceae in FNANM, elsewhere. Glaucium flavum Crantz is a waif. According to FNANM (3:300–301), Hunnemannia fumariifolia Sweet (± like Eschscholzia except sepals free) an occasional waif in California, but documentation evidently lacking. Fleshy appendage of seed sometimes for dispersal by ants. —Scientific Editor: Thomas J. Rosatti.

Key to Papaveraceae


Gary L. Hannan

1 sp. (Greek: wide stamen)

P. californicus Benth. CREAM CUPS
Annual 3–30 cm, shaggy-hairy; sap colorless to orange. Leaf: basal and cauline, alternate and whorled, 1–9 cm, linear to lanceolate or narrowly oblong, entire. Inflorescence: axillary and terminal, 1-flowered; peduncle 3.4–26 cm, > leaves. Flower: buds nodding; sepals 3, hairy; petals 6, free, 6–19 mm, narrowly ovate to obovate, cream with yellow base, tip, or both (or all yellow), often persistent after flower; stamens > 12, free, filaments flat; carpels generally 9–18, fused, glabrous to densely long-hairy, separating in fruit. Fruit: 10–16 mm, ovoid to widely linear, generally narrowed between seeds, breaking transversely into 1-seeded, indehiscent units. Seed: 1 mm, elliptic to reniform, smooth, black.
Open grassland, sandy soil, burns; < 1000 m. California Floristic Province, w Desert; to Oregon, Utah, Arizona, Baja California. [Platystemon californicus var. ciliatus Dunkle; Platystemon californicus var. crinitus (Greene) Greene; Platystemon californicus var. horridulus (Greene) Jeps.; Platystemon californicus var. nutans Brandegee; Platystemon californicus var. ornithopus (Greene) Munz; Platystemon californicus var. sphaerocarpus Brandegee; Platystemon crinitus Greene] Highly variable; further study needed to determine if plants of southern Channel Islands (Santa Barbara Island), described as Platystemon californicus var. ciliatus Dunkle, Santa Barbara Island cream cups, deserve taxonomic recognition. Mar–May [Online Interchange]

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Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2013. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Nov 25 2015
Citation for this treatment: [Author of taxon treatment] 2013. Platystemon, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Nov 25 2015

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click for enlargement Platystemon californicus
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Jo-Ann Ordano © 2000 California Academy of Sciences

Geographic subdivisions indicated for the distribution of Platystemon californicus Markers link to CCH specimen records. If the markers are obscured, reload the page [or change window size and reload]. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

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Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.