Fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesii
) is one of several species of Amsinckia
, which are annual broadleaved or short-lived perennial plants that are native to the Americas. Young fiddlenecks appear as rosettes, which develop into upright or semi-upright stems as it matures.
Fiddleneck stems can reach up to 4 ft (1.2 m) in height and are covered in soft to long stiff hairs. They can be branches or unbranched.
Leaves are lance-shaped, coarse, hairy, and with pointed tips. Leaves are spaced alternatively on stems.
Fiddlenecks have distinctive flowering heads which coil up in a cluster like a fiddle's neck, and form on top of spikes. Flowering occurs from late winter through the spring.
All parts of the fiddleneck plant contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). If fiddleneck plants are ingested over a period of time, it can cause horses to develop pyrrolizidine alkaloid toxicity
, which can lead to liver failure. Clinical signs usually don't become apparent until months or sometimes up to a year following ingestion of the plant.