The blastema is a mass of progenitor cells responsible for regeneration of amputated salamander limbs and fish fins. Previous studies have indicated that resident cell sources producing the blastema contribute lineage-restricted progeny to regenerating tissue. However, these studies have labeled general cell types rather than granular cell subpopulations, and they do not explain the developmental transitions that must occur for distal structures to arise from cells with proximal identities in the appendage stump. Here, we find that regulatory sequences of tph1b, which encodes an enzyme that synthesizes serotonin, mark a subpopulation of fibroblast-like cells restricted to the joints of uninjured adult zebrafish fins. Amputation stimulates serotonin production in regenerating fin fibroblasts, yet targeted tph1b mutations abrogating this response do not disrupt fin regeneration. In uninjured animals, tph1b-expressing cells contribute fibroblast progeny that remain restricted to joints throughout life. By contrast, upon amputation, tph1b+ joint cells give rise to fibroblasts that distribute across the entire lengths of regenerating fin rays. Our experiments visualize and quantify how incorporation into an appendage blastema broadens the progeny contributions of a cellular subpopulation that normally has proximodistal restrictions.