With the Vancouver Island Music Fest in full swing here in the Comox Valley it is fairly easy to find fiddlers. More challenging is finding a small flower called the seaside fiddleneck (Amsinckia spectabilis). In British Columbia, eFlora shows scattered collection records of this plant on the east side of Vancouver Island as far north as Tree Island and Texada. It reappears again further north on Haida Gwaii.
At the Trent River estuary this week, Jocie and I found several plants with a larger group of large-flowered collomia. Again, we realized that this plant was something that we hadn’t seen before and made a mental note of its leaves and distinctive flowers. I returned when the weather was better to photograph the plant. Jocie’s mother B. confirmed that seaside fiddleneck had been found at the Trent back in the 1980s when the estuary was surveyed by Comox Valley Nature.
Seaside fiddleneck is a beautiful, if possibly unappreciated plant. It has a sort of weedy, thistle-like look to it because of the alternate wavy-edged hairy leaves and scraggly appearance. The flowers are what gives this plant its common name of fiddleneck. The small yellow/orange flowers are arranged in a delicate curve that suggests the scroll of a fiddle or violin. Long stiff hairs are obvious. There are a couple of other similar species, so it’s best to to consult the Illustrated Flora of BC or compare your plants with those on eFlora BC.
We only found three of these plants at the Trent River estuary—if you’re visiting the Comox Valley this weekend and you appreciate uncommon flowers it is definitely worth looking for them!
On the old Island Highway 19A drive south from Courtenay through Royston. Look for Carey Place on the left hand side of the road just before the Trent River bridge. Drive to the end of the short road and park. Rubber boots recommended, ideally you should explore at low tide.