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Fiddleneck Going Gangbusters? Here’s what to do with it…

Common Fiddleneck (Amsinkia menziesii) is a fun yellow flower with a long, gradually unfurling bloom that resembles the top of a fiddle. Although it is native all across the western US and is good at colonizing dry, disturbed areas, we don’t see it too often here in the Rogue Valley! That’s too bad because it’s classified as a valuable resource for pollinators by the Xerces Society, and it’s a self-seeder and easy to grow.

Photo by Tracy Bandy: https://www.inaturalist.org/people/tracybandy

2021 seems to have been an extra-great year for Amsinkia. RNPP member Michelle wrote us this spring to say “The bloom is off the charts this year!”

Do you have Amsinkia growing nearby that you’d like to harvest? The seeds of this wildflower are abundant and easy to collect. Just as the blooming flowers progress up the stem (starting at the bottom), so do the ripening seeds. At this point in the year, the seeds from the bottom will have already dropped off, ensuring regeneration of this annual plant next year. Now’s the time to come by and collect the rest of the seeds for sowing elsewhere!

Here are more tips for harvesting Fiddleneck seeds:

  1. Amsinkia produces 4 nutlets per flower (see photo).

  2. Harvest the nutlets when they are ripe – brown in color and not easily dented with a thumbnail.

  3. Be sure to leave some seeds on the plant to ensure that the patch will regenerate next year!

  4. To harvest the most possible seed from individual plants, cut or snap the plants off at the base when about half of the nutlets are ripe. (Remember to leave the majority of plants where you find them so that they can do their thing!)

  5. Lay the plants out on a tarp in the sun for a few days to let the rest of the seeds ripen.

  6. Once the plants are pretty dry, grab a handful of stems (with gloves to avoid the sharp hairs) and bang the bundle against the inside of a large rubber storage tub to break loose the seeds.

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