Large-flowered Fiddleneck

(Amsinckia grandiflora)

Large-flowered fiddleneck is a California endangered plant species, which means that killing or possessing the plant is prohibited by the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). Large-flowered fiddleneck is also listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act(opens in new tab) and critical habitat has been designated for the species. Large-flowered fiddleneck is an annual herb with bright orange, trumpet shaped flowers that bloom in late spring. Large-flowered fiddleneck was historically found in native perennial bunch grass communities, which are now increasingly encroached upon by non-native annual grassland communities. In order to maintain existing populations, it is necessary to actively manage against non-native annual grasses and forbes. Large-flowered fiddleneck populations have historically been located in Contra Costa, Alameda, and San Joaquin Counties. At the time of this webpage posting, the California Natural Diversity Database reports four occurrences of large-flowered fiddleneck that are presumed to still exist, however more recent reports indicate that only two occurrences may still persist. One occurrence consists of a natural population and a re-introduced subpopulation; the other includes one natural population.

Due to its limited range and low rate of seed production, large-flowered fiddleneck has probably never been very abundant. Populations of the plant steadily decreased following the European settlement of California’s Central Valley, which resulted in extensive introductions of non-native plant species, overgrazing by livestock, conversion of land for agriculture, and changes in natural fire regimes. These disturbances affected many California native plants, and large-flowered fiddleneck had an especially difficult time adjusting to these changes. When a Recovery Plan for large-flowered fiddleneck was published by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 1997, there were only two known remaining natural populations. Since the Recovery Plan was published, one of these populations was extirpated and one more was discovered. Several re-introductions have been attempted with little success. Lessons learned from these studies have been incorporated into current research efforts.

One of the known remaining populations occurs within the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in an area called “Site 300”. The Department of Energy entered into an agreement with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in April 2000 to designate 160 acres within Site 300 as a reserve that would provide for the survival and recovery of large-flowered fiddleneck. In order to ensure species recovery, management studies should be conducted on extant populations to determine appropriate management conditions. A seed bank should be maintained for future restoration efforts, and studies should be conducted to determine what causes populations to stop reproducing. Additional studies and reintroduction efforts funded by the Central Valley Project Conservation Program have been permitted by CDFW and are underway.

CDFW has participated in the following large-flowered fiddleneck studies with support via the California Endangered Species Tax Check-off FundsCooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund(opens in new tab), or other mechanisms:

CDFW may issue permits for large-flowered fiddleneck pursuant to CESA, and you can learn more about the California laws protecting large-flowered fiddleneck and other California native plants. Populations of large-flowered fiddleneck occur in CDFW's Bay Delta Region. More information on large-flowered fiddleneck is also available from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Species Profile for large-flowered fiddleneck(opens in new tab).

Updated 3/19/2013

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Amsinckia grandiflora, CDFW photo by Susan Cochrane
Amsinckia grandiflora, CDFW photo by Susan Cochrane
Amsinckia grandiflora CDFW illustration by Mary Ann Showers
Amsinckia grandiflora CDFW illustration by Mary Ann Showers, click for full-sized image