top of page
  • Writer's pictureDeborah Kade

These are not L. Frank Baum's, The Wizard of Oz, poppies!

"The "Poppies" are introduced in L. Frank Baum's first Oz book titled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900 and appear in the eighth chapter of the novel The Deadly Poppy Field. In the tale, these dangerous poppies bloom within the magical Land of Oz and are used as an obstacle of which involves the main characters and protagonist in the plot of the story, Dorothy, her pet dog Toto, and their three Oz companions the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion. Yet, these scarlet blossoms are mysteriously cursed. They are attractive to the eye, soothing to the smell, and dangerously fatal when among too many."

"The specific kind of poppy in Oz is a rare magical species type of flower which all happen to hold an extra strong Papaver somniferum within its core and scented petals which produces edible seeds. This is also the source of the crude drug "opium" which contains powerful medicinal alkaloids such as heroin and morphine."

"Normal poppies are herbaceous annual, biennial or short-lived perennial plants. Some species are monocarpic, dying after flowering, but in Oz these poppies can never die or ever wilt. In Oz, once the poppies blossom, they live forever. And when any living being or creature is surrounded by the pretty smell, it is so powerful that anyone who breathes it in for too long, falls into a deep eternal slumber, from which they cannot wake and one could sleep on forever and ever amongst these plants until eventual death."

"There is no way to break this dark spell and stop the deadly flowers unless one were to be physically carried and taken out of the field and far away enough, to breathe in the fresh air and come out of the deadly trance, weakening the poison that dwells in the meadow."

"Not much information is given as to where these blood red poppies originated from and why they became enchanted with the curse of eternal sleep. However, these poppies are described by Baum as being more beautiful than any other poppy ever seen. They are big, bright, lively, luscious, and delicately scented. The meadow that is full of hundreds of thousands of them is vast and stretches out many, many miles in every direction at the borders of Munchkin Country."

Margaret Hamilton, in the 1939 version of The Wizard of Oz, plays the Wicked Witch of the West as a green-skinned witch dressed in a long black dress with a black pointed hat. She does not wear an eye-patch like in novel.

This is what the Wicked Witch of the West says about poppies.

"And now my beauties, something with poison in it I think, but attractive to the eye and soothing to the smell . . . poppies, poppies, poppies will put them to sleep."

Poppies... Poppies. Poppies will put them to sleep. Sleeeeep. Now they'll sleeeeep! But that's not what's worrying me. It's how to do it. These things must be done delicately... or you hurt the spell."

The hillsides along the Bush Highway toward Saguaro Lake were covered in California and Mexican poppies.

There were so many people walking amongst the poppies.

Cars pulled over the side of the road

This little boy wanted to sit up on the hill in the purple flowers.

There were other wildflowers besides poppies blooming.

Esteve's Pincushion

Chaenactis stevioides, Esteve's Pincushion, produces compact, spherical, densely-packed clusters of small white to pale yellow disc florets, which, like some other members of this genus, are larger towards the outside of the cluster, and bilaterally rather than radially symmetric. The species branches profusely, bearing many flower clusters. Florets have five pointed lobes and several protruding stamens. Clusters are about one inch in diameter. Underneath are a ring of dark green lance-shaped phyllaries, blunt at the tip, and covered by cobwebby hairs, similar to the leaves and stems. Leaves at the base and lower portion of the stem are divided into 4 to 8 pairs of narrow lobes. Those towards the base are usually withered before flowering time. Stems and leaves often have a purplish tint. The plant is very common across desert areas, but its range extends over most of the western states.


It has small yellow flowers and it grows like a bush, quickly spreading out on its own.

The species has aromatic leaves which are sometimes processed to make natural frankincense.

These leaves also have a type of resin that is extracted for other types of products such as glue.

Brittlebush is important to the local culture which has used the species for frankincense. The bush might also be known as the Hierba del Vaso in the Southern parts of the state.


Sometimes called an Apricot Mallow, The Desert Globemallow is a species that has a unique faint apricot color.

It grows as a type of small shrub that may reach a height of up to 3 feet.

Desert Globemallow is further known as an adaptive species in gardening.

There’s no watering needed with this plant when planted outdoors. Rainfall offers it sufficient humidity to grow.

However, unlike different types of Arizona wildflowers, the Desert Globemallow is a species that needs to be cut as it spreads out onto nearby plants.

Desert marigold

"Most of the divided, lobed foliage of baileya multiradiata, desert marigold, is clustered around the base of the relatively tall, unbranched, finely hairy stems, which are topped by a single, large, yellow flower, 2 inches in diameter. Flowers have between 25 and 50 ray petals, overlapping and on several layers, while at the center are many small, orange-yellow disc florets. The petals have three broad teeth at the tip, and are obovate in shape. The plants inhabits hot, dry environments, from the Mojave Desert of southeast California to the Chihuahuan Desert of west Texas, and is particularly common along roadsides, where it benefits from water run-off from the highway surface."

Marigolds and purple owl's clover

Marigolds and lupine

Purple owl's clover

Castilleja exserta (formerly Orthocarpus purpurascens) is a species of plant in the genus Castilleja which includes the Indian paintbrushes. Its common names include purple owl's clover, escobita, and exserted Indian paintbrush.

lupine, purple owl's clover and poppies

orange globemallow and lupine

142 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page