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A Hero for the Poppies: Jane Pinheiro

Poppy season is here again! From MOAH’s Collections, here are photographs of early Lancaster residents enjoying the poppies. Every year, hundreds of people flock to Lancaster to visit the Antelope Valley California Poppy Preserve. The preserve would not have been possible without the work of artist and conservationist Jane Pinheiro, the “Great Poppy Lady”.


Susie and Aaron Oldham, Mrs. Olcott Bulkley, son Olcott, and Rev. Amos, among others amongst the poppies (MOAH Collections, Gurba 2005).


Old Lancaster Grammar School Principal A.H. Riddell amongst the poppies (MOAH Collections, Gurba 2005).


Born on September 9, 1907, Jane Seymour lived in Denver Colorado. She earned her teaching credentials from the University of Utah. In the late 1920s, she would move to Pasadena with her mother who ran a boarding house. While there, she would meet Joseph Pinheiro and the two married in 1930. It wasn’t until 1940 that the Pinheiros moved to the Antelope Valley (Poppy Reserve Interpretive Association).

While living in the Mojave, Jane became fascinated with the local desert flora and began painting and studying them. She was a self-taught artist and botanist who came to know many of the local Antelope Valley plants (Poppy Reserve Interpretive Association). Many of her illustrations hang today at the Jane Pinheiro Interpretive Center which is open during poppy season. She became very passionate about conserving the environment and she worked with the Lancaster Women’s Club Wildflower Preservation Committee to establish the Antelope Valley California Poppy Preserve which was founded in 1976 (Poppy Reserve Interpretive Association).

In addition to help establish the Poppy Preserve, Jane would also go on to work with assemblyman Allen Miller to establish the 2,720-acre Saddleback Butte State Park to preserve Joshua Trees. Many other wildflower and wildlife sanctuaries in the Antelope Valley were also established due to her efforts (Poppy Reserve Interpretive Association).

In 1963, Jane worked to establish an information center for poppy visitors. This information center was first located on Sierra Highway, then moved to the AV Fairgrounds, and then again to the Lancaster Art Gallery and Museum on Cedar Street (Poppy Reserve Interpretive Association). The interpretive center sits inside the preserve and would be named after Jane on April 17, 1982. In recognition of her conservation work service, she would be awarded with the National Oak Leaf Service award from the Nature Conservancy and the Sol Feinstein Environmental award (Poppy Reserve Interpretive Association).

In addition to these many contributions to conservation, Jane Pinheiro held numerous positions within the city. She served as the first board secretary for what was the Antelope Valley hospital, now called the Antelope Valley Medical Center, and would remain on the board until she passed (Antelope Valley Medical Center). She would also help form the 1946 Antelope Valley Arts Association/Antelope Valley Allied Arts Association (Poppy Reserve Interpretive Association). In 1950, she helped start the annual Quartz Hill Almond Blossom Festivaland served for ten years on the Board of Directors of the Antelope Valley Fair (Poppy Reserve Interpretive Association). The list goes on.

Jane Pinheiro will be remembered as a community hero for years to come. Think of her and her contributions when you visit the poppies this year. Be sure to visit the Antelope Valley California Poppy Preserve website for visitor information: Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve SNR.


Jane Pinheiro (left) with Warren Dorn (second to the left), Los Angeles County’s Fifth District supervisor from 1956-1974 (MOAH Collections, Gurba 2005).


Jane Pinheiro (third from the right) (MOAH Collections).


Jane Pinheiro (MOAH Collections).


Works Cited


Antelope Valley Medical Center. Hospital Rebrand. (Hospital Rebrand | Antelope Valley Medical Center (avmc.org)).


Gurba, Norma H. Images of America Lancaster. Arcadia Publishing, 2005.


Poppy Preserve Interpretive Association, Ann Gregg. ‘Jane Pinheiro The “Great Poppy Lady” September 9, 1907 – October 14, 1978’ (https://planning.lacounty.gov/.../uploads/2019/04/Biography-of-Jane-Pinheiro.pdf).


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