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Statewide IPM Program, University of California

Fiddlenecks  (Amsinckia spp.)

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Life stages of Fiddlenecks seedling mature plant flower head imature plant

Fiddlenecks are winter annual broadleaf plants. There are several native Amsinckia species in California. Most are desirable components of wildlands. However, coast, A. menziesii var. intermedia, and Menzies, A. menziesii, fiddlenecks can be problematic in agronomic crop fields, orchards, and pastures. In fact, fruits of coast, Menzies, western, and tarweed, A. lycopsoides, fiddlenecks can be toxic to livestock when ingested in quantity. Poisonings most often occur when livestock consume contaminated grain or feed. Fiddlenecks also inhabit disturbed, open or unmanaged places, grasslands, fields, roadsides, and vineyards. Of the many Amsinckia species in California, coast fiddleneck is most often reported as a weed. Coast fiddleneck, shown in the photos, and common fiddleneck, A. douglasiana, are very similar.


Cotyledons (seed leaves) are "Y" shaped, with tiny blisters and a few fine hairs. Early leaves are four to six times longer than wide and have coarse, sharp hairs.

Mature plant

Mature fiddlenecks may reach 4 feet (1.2 m) in height. They are single or few-stemmed. Leaves are lance shaped, coarse to the touch, hairy, and are alternate to one another along the stem.


Distinctive spike flowering heads curl like the neck of a fiddle and the yellow, funnel-shaped, five-lobed flowers attach on one side of the spike.


At maturity, the four-lobed fruit breaks into four one-seeded nutlets. Coast fiddleneck has gray nutlets and common fiddleneck has brown or black nutlets.


Reproduces by seed.

Related or similar plants

  • Heliotrope, Heliotropium spp.
  • Coast fiddleneck, Amsinckia menziesii var. intermedia

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