Photo: In a rare occurence, poppies explode across California

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The state's official flower is on the wane, but every so often they bloom with a vengeance. Here's why.

Eschscholzia californica, the cheerful California poppy, the cup of gold, has been the official state flower of California since 1903. And while images of it adorn highway signs and Scenic Route markers across the state, actual blooms of the bright beauties have become increasingly hampered due to invasive species that are muscling their way into the poppies' turf.

But this year, the poppies are in full force. Thanks to a one-two punch of drought and rain, the invasives have lost their mojo, if even just for a bit, and the stalwart poppies have stepped up to remind everyone who's boss.

As Richard Minnich, a professor from University of California, Riverside, tells SF Gate:

"During droughts, the invasive species don't reach reproductive maturity and they die and their seeds are knocked out. The wildflowers have a long seed life and their seeds survive the drought. And then the wet years come and the poppies don't have interference and then they have their great moment."

What a beautiful sight! Thanks to DeeDee Gollwitzer for this wonderful testimony to the sweet poppy's enduance.

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