CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Amsinckia grandiflora

Holly Forbes

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CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Amsinckia grandiflora

Common Name: 
large-flowered fiddleneck
(Gray) Greene
Growth Habit: 
CPC Number: 


Profile Links
 Fish & WildLife

Amsinckia grandifloraenlarge
Photographer: Holly Forbes

Amsinckia grandifloraenlarge
Photographer: Roger Raiche

Amsinckia grandiflora is Not Sponsored
Primary custodian for this plant in the CPC National Collection of Endangered Plants is: 
Holly Forbes contributed to this Plant Profile.

Amsinckia grandiflora

The large-flowered fiddleneck is a striking annual plant, growing to 50 cm. tall and having bright orange flowers (14-20 mm. long) from April to May in northern California. It is now found in only three populations, one on private rangeland and two on the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory property (this area of the facility was used to test nuclear bomb triggers and high explosives for nearly 50 years).

Distribution & Occurrence

State Range
State Range of  Amsinckia grandiflora
  This species prefers deep loamy soils of sedimentary origin on mesic, north-facing slopes (Pavlik et al. 1993).

  Between 1869 and 1917, large-flowered fiddleneck was collected from the hills near Antioch and in scattered locations south through the Diablo Range to northern San Joaquin County (Pavlik et al. 1993).

Number Left
  There are two populations on Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) property: 1 population has between 23-400 individuals and the other has < 29 individuals. Another population of thousands of individuals on private land was recently discovered not far from the LLNL populations. An ex situ population has been established within the historic range at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Contra Costa Co.


Global Rank:  
Guide to Global Ranks
Federal Status:  
Guide to Federal Status
Recovery Plan:  

State/Area Protection
  State/Area Rank Status Date  
  California S1.1 1 4/1/1982  

Conservation, Ecology & Research

Ecological Relationships
  Populations of large-flowered fiddleneck suffer from low reproductive output, usually less than 20 nutlets per plant, compared to 200-300 by other species of Amsinckia. This species exhibits a primitive form of heterostyly (pin-thrum flower types) with cryptic self-incompatibility and inbreeding depression (Ornduff 1976; Weller and Ornduff 1977, 1991). The populations are composed of pin individuals (having flowers with long styles and short stamens) and thrum individuals (having flowers with short styles and long stamens), and seed set is promoted by pollen transfer between plants of different flower types (pin and thrum).

Pollen transfer between plants of the same flower type (pin to pin or thrum to thrum) and self-pollination greatly reduce seed set (Ray and Chisaki; Barrett 1990). The possession of heterostyly and cryptic self-incompatibility indicates that A. grandiflora has an outbreeding mating system with a potential for high levels of heterozygosity and genetic recombination (Pavlik et al. 1993). Large-flowered fiddleneck has specific habitat requirements (deep loamy soils of sedimentary origin; mesic, north-facing slopes), and is negatively impacted by non-native species in grasslands.

  Threats include (as stated by USFWS 1997):
Non-native plants
Possibly by altered fire frequency

Current Research Summary
  A number of studies have been done on large-flowered fiddleneck. These include cryptic self-incompatibility (Weller and Ornduff 1977), nutlet production and germination (Pavlik 1988), pollen tube growth and inbreeding depression (Weller and Ornduff 1991), a reintroduction effort in 1989 (Pavlik et al. 1993), morph parenthood and nutlet yield (Espeland and Carlsen 1995), effects on germination (Carlsen and Gregory 1995), competition between Amsinckia grandiflora and grasses (Carlsen and Menke 1995), and reducing competitive suppression (Carlsen et al. 2000).

Current Management Summary
  The U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the California Department of Fish & Game established the 160-acre Amsinckia grandiflora Reseve on the Site 300 Experimental Test Facility of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in April 2000. The populations in this reserve are monitored by the staff ecologist at LLNL.

Research Management Needs
  Studies are needed to evaluate all the impacts (trampling, soil compaction, herbivory) as well as the benefits (increased habitat patchiness) of using livestock to favor native herbs over introduced annual grasses. The effective management of introduced competitors will be critical to successful reintroductions of large-flowered fiddleneck. Additional trials are needed to determine the range of species, habitats, and land-use situations in which herbicides could be used safely, responsibly, and effectively to meet conservation objectives (Pavlik et al. 1993). Long-term monitoring of the ex situ population at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve is needed to confirm the success of this introduction.

Ex Situ Needs
  Seeds are needed for long-term storage.


Books (Sections)

Pavlik, B.M. 1994. Demographic monitoring and the recovery of endangered plants. In: Bowles, M.L.; Whelan, C., editors. Recovery and Restoration of Endangered Species. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge. p 322-350.

Pavlovic, N.B. 1994. Disturbance-dependent persistence of rare plants: anthropogenic impacts and restoration implications. In: Bowles, M.L.; Whelan, C., editors. Recovery and Restoration of Endangered Species. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge. p 159-193.

Weller, S.G. 1994. The relationship of rarity to plant reproductive biology. In: Bowles, M.L.; Whelan, C., editors. Recovery and Restoration of Endangered Species. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge. p 90-117.

Conference Proceedings

Carlsen, T.M.; Gregory, S.D. The effect of standing litter and bird predation on the germination of a rare forb Amsinckia grandiflora. 75. 79th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America; August 7-11, 1994; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA. 1994. p 33.

Carlsen, T.M.; Menke, J.W. Competition between the forb Amsinckia grandiflora and grasses of different morphologies. In Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America. 76. 80th Anniversary and Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America on the Transdisciplinary Nature of Ecology; July 30-August 3, 1995; Snowbird, Utah, USA. 1995. p 310.

Espeland, E.K.; Carlsen, T.M. Morph parenthood and nutlet yield in the distylous borage Amsinckia grandiflora. In Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America. 76. 80th Anniversary and Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America on the Transdisciplinary Nature of Ecology; July 30-August 3, 1995; Snowbird, Utah, USA. 1995. p 324.

Electronic Sources

(2002). Species Accounts and Baseline. Bureau of Reclamation Mid-Pacific Region, Public Affairs Office, Sacramento CA 95825-1898. http://www.mp.usbr.gov/cvpia/3404c/docs/fwsbio-part3.pdf. Accessed: 2002.

CalPhotos. (2002). CalPhotos: Berkely Digital Library Project. University of California, Berkeley. http://elib.cs.berkeley.edu/photos/. Accessed: 2002.

CDFG. (2002). California's Plants and Animals, Threatened and Endangered Plants. List and Species Accounts. California Department of Fish and Game, Habitat Conservation Planning Branch. http://www.dfg.ca.gov/hcpb/species/t_e_spp/teplant/teplanta.shtml. Accessed: 2002.

USFWS. (2002). Some Threatened & Endangered Plants Found Mainly in California. Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. http://sacramento.fws.gov/es/plant_spp_accts/acctplant.htm. Accessed: 2002.

Journal Articles

1984. Endangered Species. AABGA Newsletter. pp. 5.

1989. Conserving California's Endangered Flora: A Race Against Time. University of California Botanical Garden Newsletter. 14, 2: 1-3.

2000. Land reserve created at Lawrence Livermore. DOE (Department of Energy) This Month. 23, 4: 4.

Athanasiou, A.; Shore, J.S. 1997. Morph-specific proteins in pollen and styles of distylous Turnera (Turneraceae). Genetics. 146, 2: 669-679.

Barrett, S.C.H. 1990. The evolution and adaptive significance of heterostyly. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 5: 144-148.

Carlsen, T.M.; Menke, J.W.; Pavlik, B.M. 2000. Reducing competitive suppression of a rare annual forb by restoring native California perennial grasslands. Restoration Ecology. 8, 1: 18-29.

Cruzan, M.B.; Barrett, S.C.H. 1993. Contribution of Cryptic Incompatibility to the Mating System of Eichhornia paniculata (Pontederiaceae). Evolution. 47, 3: 925-934.

Davis, A.R. 1992. Evaluating Honey Bees as Pollinators of Virgin Flowers of Echium plantagineum L (Boraginaceae) by Pollen Tube Fluorescence. Journal of Apicultural Research. 31, 2: 83-95.

Eckert, C.G.; Allen, M. 1997. Cryptic self-incompatibility in tristylous Decodon verticillatus (Lythraceae). American Journal of Botany. 84, 10: 1391-1397.

Eckert, C.G.; Barrett, S.C.H. 1994. Postpollination Mechanisms and the Maintenance of Outcrossing in Self-Compatible, Tristylous, Decodon verticillatus (Lythraceae). Heredity. 72: 396-411.

Emms, S.K.; Hodges, S.A.; Arnold, M.L. 1996. Pollen-tube competition, siring success, and consistent asymmetric hybridization in Louisiana irises. Evolution. 50, 6: 2201-2206.

Giblin, D.E.; Hamilton, C.W. 1999. The relationship of reproductive biology to the rarity of endemic Aster curtus (Asteraceae). Canadian Journal of Botany-Revue Canadienne De Botanique. 77, 1: 140-149.

Johnston, M.O. 1993. Tests of 2 Hypotheses Concerning Pollen Competition in a Self-Compatible, Long-Styled Species (Lobelia cardinalis, Lobeliaceae). American Journal of Botany. 80, 12: 1400-1406.

Manicacci, D.; Barrett, S.C.H. 1996. Fertility differences among floral morphs following selfing in tristylous Eichhornia paniculata (Pontederiaceae): Inbreeding depression or partial incompatibility. American Journal of Botany. 83, 5: 594-603.

Montalvo, A.M. 1992. Relative Success of Self and Outcross Pollen Comparing Mixed Donor and Single Donor Pollinations in Aquilegia caerulea. Evolution. 46, 4: 1181-1198.

Montaner, C.; Floris, E.; Alvarez, J.M. 2000. Is self-compatibility the main breeding system in borage (Borago officinalis L.)?. Theoretical and Applied Genetics. 101, 1-2: 185-189.

Pantone, D.J..; Pavlik, B.M.; Kelley, R.B. 1995. The Reproductive Attributes of an Endangered Plant as Compared to a Weedy Congener. Biological Conservation. 71, 3: 305-311.

Pavlik, B.M.; Nickrent, D.L.; Howald, A.M. 1993. The Recovery of an Endangered Plant .1. Creating a New Population of Amsinckia grandiflora. Conservation Biology. 7, 3: 510-526.

Richards, J.H.; Koptur, S. 1993. Floral Variation and Distyly in Guettarda scabra (Rubiaceae). American Journal of Botany. 80, 1: 31-40.

Rigney, L.P.; Thomson, J.D.; Cruzan, M.B.; Brunet, J. 1993. Differential Success of Pollen Donors in a Self-Compatible Lily. Evolution. 47, 3: 915-924.

SmithHuerta, N. L. 1996. Pollen germination and tube growth in selfing and outcrossing populations of Clarkia tembloriensis (Onagraceae). International Journal of Plant Sciences. 157, 2: 228-233.

Snow, A.A.; Spira, T.P. 1991. Differential Pollen Tube Growth Rates and Nonrandom Fertilization in Hibiscus moscheutos (Malvaceae). American Journal of Botany. 78, 10: 1419-1426.

Snow, A.A.; Spira, T.P. 1993. Individual Variation in the Vigor of Self Pollen and Self-Fed Progeny in Hibiscus moscheutos (Malvaceae). American Journal of Botany. 80, 2: 160-164.

Stone, J.L.; Thomson, J.D.; Dentacosta, S.J. 1995. Assessment of Pollen Viability in Hand Pollination Experiments - a Review. American Journal of Botany. 82, 9: 1186-1197.

USFWS. 1976. Proposed Endangered Status for 1700 U.S. Plants. Federal Register. 41: 24523-24572.

USFWS. 1984. Proposal of Endangered Status and Critical Habitat for the large-flowered fiddleneck (Amsinckia grandiflora). Federal Register. 49, 90: 19534-19538.

USFWS. 1984. Three Plants Proposed for Listing. Endangered Species Technical Bulletin. 9, 6: 10.

USFWS. 1985. Determination that Amsinckia grandiflora is an Endangered Species and Designation of Critical Habitat. Federal Register. 50, 89: 19374-19378.

USFWS. 1985. Four Plants Given Endangered Species Act Protection. Endangered Species Technical Bulletin. 10, 5: 1, 10.

Weller, S.G.; Ornduff, R. 1977. Cryptic self-incompatibility in Amsinckia grandiflora (Boraginaceae). Evolution. 31: 47-51.

Weller, S.G.; Ornduff, R. 1989. Incompatibility in Amsinckia grandiflora (Boraginaceae) - Distribution of Callose Plugs and Pollen Tubes Following Intermorph and Intramorph Crosses. American Journal of Botany. 76, 2: 277-282.

Weller, S.G.; Ornduff, R. 1991. Pollen-Tube Growth and Inbreeding Depression in Amsinckia grandiflora (Boraginaceae). American Journal of Botany. 78, 6: 801-804.

Newspaper Articles

Shabecoff, Philip. 1988 Tuesday, December 6. Survey Finds Native Plants in Imminent Peril. The New York Times; New York, NY. Science Times.


Pavlik, B.M. 1991. Reintroduction of Amsinckia grandiflora to three sites across its historic range. Sacramento, California: State of California, Department of Fish and Game, Endangered Plant Program. Unpublished.

Pavlik, B.M.; Heisler, Karen. 1988. Habitat Characterization and Selection of Potential Sites for Establishment of New Populations of Amsinckia grandiflora. Oakland and Sacramento, CA: Produced at Mills College for the Endangered Plant Project of the CA Department of Fish and Game. p.17.

Pavlik, B.M.; Heisler, Karen. 1988. Nutlet Production and germination of Amsinckia grandiflora 1. Measure from Cultivated Populations. Oakland and Sacramento, CA: Produced at Mills College for the Endangered Plant Project of the CA Department of Fish and Game. p.20 (+ appendicies).

Sanguamphai. 1989. 1988 Annual Report on the Status of California's State Listed Threatened and Endangered Plants and Animals. State of California, Department of Fish and Game.

Smith, Norris S. 1985. Site 300 Explosive Test Site--Background Information. Livermore, CA: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, University of California. p.5 (Including fact sheet on A. grandiflora).

USFWS. 1997. Large-flowered fiddleneck (Amsinckia grandiflora) Recovery Plan. Portland, Oregon: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. p.45.

  This profile was updated on 3/4/2010
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