Amsinckia menziesii var. intermedia

(Fischer & C. Meyer) Ganders

=Amsinckia intermedia

Boraginaceae (Borage Family)




Rancher's Fireweed  




                                        February Photo

 Plant Characteristics:  Annual herb, erect slender and simple to widely branched, 2-8 dm. tall, sparsely bristly, otherwise subglabrous except for pubescence toward infl.; lvs. linear to lanceolate, 2-15 cm. long, the lower petioled, thinly hirsute on both sides with spreading often pustulate hairs; racemes leafy-bracteate at base, 5-20 cm. long in age; fls. homostylic, nearly radially symmetrical; calyx 5-10 mm. long in fr., 5-lobed, the axial pair of lobes not united, rusty-hispid on backs, white-hirsute on edges; corolla orange-yellow, 8-10 mm. long, the tube not much exserted, the limb 2-6 mm. broad, generally with 5 red-orange marks; nutlets 2-3 mm. long, ovoid or angular-ovoid, tuberculate, usually medially keeled and with some oblique ridges, usually granulate; scar usually small.  Variable in lf.-shape, pubescence, nutlets; Suksdorf recognizing over 100 segregates.


Habitat:  Many Plant Communities; throughout cismontane Calif., occasional on deserts; to Wash., Idaho, Ariz., L. Calif.  Below 1700 m. March-June.


Name:  Wilhelm Amsinck, (1752-1831), early 19th century patron of the botanic garden in Hamburg.  (Munz, Flora So. Calif. 247).  Intermedia is translated as "intermediate".  There are many species of this plant and this one was probably seen as halfway between two others.  (Dale 77).  Menziesii, in honor of Archibald Menzies, (1754-1842), surgeon and naturalist to Vancouver's Pacific Coast expedition. (Jaeger 313).


General:  Common in the study area.  Photographed on the North Star Flats, and on Back Bay Dr. between the Newporter Inn and San Joaquin Hills Dr.   (my comments).      The plant is poisonous to dairy animals and horses.  It contains alkaloids that cause liver cirrhosis.  Without control, up to 10% of alfalfa seedlings could be destroyed by this plant.  (FREMONTIA, A Journal of the California Native Plant Society, July 85, author not recorded).    There are records of deleterious effect on hogs, which have been fed large amounts of the seed, as in barley screenings.  (Robbins et al. 356).    Rough as the plants are to touch, cattle enjoy them and in Arizona they are known as Sacate Gordo, Spanish for "fat grass".  A. intermedia has been known to accumulate free nitrates in quantities capable of causing death or distress in cattle.  (Fuller 385).      Perhaps 20 species of western North America and southern South America.  (Munz, Flora So. Calif. 247).


Text Ref:  Hickman, Ed. 368; Munz, Calif. Flora 589; Munz, Flora So. Calif. 248; Roberts 14.

Photo Ref:  Mar 2 85 # 5; Feb-Mar 86 # 7,8.

Identity: by R. De Ruff, confirmed by F. Roberts.  

First Found:  March 1985.


Computer Ref:  Plant Data 202.

Have plant specimen.

Last edit 5/17/05.


                           February Photo                                                              February Photo