You know that this winter and spring we have had a tremendous amount of rainfall. That rainfall led to a bumper crop of wildflowers and weeds throughout town and the surrounding hills. Although you may be tempted to make a bouquet, be careful because some of these plants are not good to handle.
The Mohave County Master Gardeners, trained and certified by the University of Arizona, have about 20 members in Lake Havasu City.
We are here to serve the public as a source of scientifically backed gardening advice. Recently, we had an inquiry from a gentleman who had a plant he could not identify. Word was put out among the Master Gardeners, and one of our members recognized the plant as fiddleneck (Amsinckia intermedia). Like many flowering annuals, fiddleneck is considered a wildflower by some, but more commonly classified as a weed due to the fact that it has some unpleasant properties.
I researched some additional information about fiddleneck, and thought this knowledge would be good for all to know, since the plant does grow in Lake Havasu City.
Fiddleneck (also known as common fiddleneck, or intermediate fiddleneck), is a species of plant in the Boraginaceae family (also called the Borage or Forget-me-not family).
The small flowers of Amsinckia intermedia are yellow to orange in color. They grow at closely spaced intervals along one side of a straightening stem, and into a denser cluster at the top which curves into the shape of a fiddleneck.
The stems and narrow green leaves have a covering of long, bristly, white hairs. Leaves are large around the base of the stem, up to 6 inches in length, but much reduced higher up.
It can grow up to 40 inches (1 m) tall, but usually half that or less.
This weedy plant can be abundant after unusually wet winters, and dense patches of it can cover the ground. This plant is poisonous. The seeds contain the toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids intermedine and lycopsamine.
The plants are covered in sharp, brittle hairs that can irritate human skin (especially when the plants are dry), so do not walk through a patch of dried common fiddleneck if you have bare legs.
The seeds and foliage of fiddleneck are poisonous to pets and livestock because they contain alkaloids and high concentrations of nitrates. If you have any fiddleneck growing in your yard, you will want to take care when removing it. Be sure to wear gloves, and pull the entire plant before it has a chance to go to seed.
Steve Gissendanner is a Lake Havasu City Master Gardener. For information, contact the Lake Havasu City Master Gardeners by calling their Hotline at (928) 753-3788, or visit them at Home Garden Day, the first Tuesday of each month from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lake Havasu City Public Library.