Friday, August 17, 2012

21-Monkey Salute

Mimulus, with the same roots as mime, roughly means "clown-like, with a painted face."

Making it a perfect genus for monkeyflowers.

There's 62 native Mimulus species in CA. And it seems that discovering and describing them must have been popular - even with the rugged mountain men. 24 of the 62 use surnames in their specific epithet. There are species named for Lewis (of & Clark), Brewer, Whitney, Douglas, Fremont, Bolander, Gray, Kellogg, Layne, Palmer, Parish, and Torrey, to name a few. Many of them biggies of early California and American exploration and natural science.

I know I'm always delighted to add another monkey to my comical collection.

Here's the 21 species I've seen to-date, starting off with good ole guttatus...

mimulus and minuartia mix
Common Monkeyflowers, Mimulus guttatus. Like many monkeys, they're incredibly adaptable to the available resources - they can stay small and annual in a resource poor habitat, such as these Red Hills serpentine soils, or go big and patchy as a rhizomed perennial in a consistent summer seep

monkeyflowers - mimulus guttatus
More typical Mimulus guttatus in the Sierra Nevada foothills. The species can range in height from 1/2" to 4 feet (2cm to 150cm), and is often called Seep Spring Monkeyflower

downy monkey
Downy Monkeyflower, Mimulus pilosus, with long silvery hairs

Mimulus floribundus, the Many-flowered Monkeyflower, is more finely furred

mimulus moschatus - musk monkeyflower
Musk Monkeyflower, Mimulus moschatus, is a low-grower with big tubes

primrose monkeys
Primrose Monkeys, Mimulus primuloides, have wire-stems, and like bogs and wetlands

monkey uprising
Whitney's Monkeyflower, Mimulus whitneyi, grows in dry soils and is occasionally pink

bush monkeyflower - mimulus aurantiacus
Bush Monkeyflower, Mimulus aurantiacus, is also highly variable as it adapts. This form in San Luis Obisbo County can be fully herbaceous (dying back to the ground each year)

bush monkeyflowers
Bush Monkeyflower flowers from the San Francisco Peninsula with orange creamcicle coloring. The species can be found with white and red flowers in California, as well

scarlet monkeyflower - mimulus cardinalis
Cardinal Monkeyflower, Mimulus cardinalis, is a perennial that grows in streamside patches, and is very popular with hummingbirds

lewis monkeyflower
Lewis' Monkeyflowers, Mimulus lewisii, likes waterfront property too

mimulus layneae?
The wiry Mimulus layneae, Layne's Monkeyflower, hides in hillside grasslands

mimulus bolanderi
While the upright Bolander's Monkeyflower, Mimulus bolanderi, prefers a bit of cover

parish's monkey
Parish's Monkeyflower, Mimulus parishii, is similar to guttatus and likes seeps

fremont's monkeyflower - mimulus fremontii
Fremont's Monkeyflower, Mimulus fremontii, is a belly plant of dry habitats

mariposa monkeyflower - mimulus grayi
Mimulus inconspicuous, also called Mimulus grayi, the Mariposa Monkeyflower, is also a small but perfect species that hides in Sierran shrubs, such as mountain misery

mimulus palmeri
Palmer's Monkeyflower, Mimulus palmeri, likes rocky seeps in SoCal

And the weeeee little Brewer's Monkeyflower, Mimulus breweri, likes mountain meadows. Brewer obviously had nothing to prove... :)

We didn't have Jepson to key, but think this dark beauty is Bigelow's Monkeyflower, Mimulus bigelovii, that likes well-drained, sandy washes

mouse ear choir
And one of the best of the lot, Mimulus douglasii, most often called Purple Mouse Ears, is typically found in the Sierra Nevada, but also likes the sparse competition of serpentine soils. It's a species that can - get ready, this is the big word o' the month - practice cleistogamy. When resources, such as water, are very limited, their flower buds self-pollinate, and go straight to fruit w/o ever forming a full flower, or blooming.

who's the leader of the band...
"Who's the leader of the band that's made for you and me..."

all hail the hypnoflower
Don't forget the Calico Monkeyflower, Mimulus pictus - it's a rare Tehachapi endemic that I've gushed about before. The latin term "pictus" means painted/calico, and is also the species name of the Mountain Quail, Oreortyx pictus

kellogg's monkeyflower
Kellogg's Monkeyflower, Mimulus kelloggii, turn flat faces to the sun

And Mimulus nanus, Dwarf Monkeyflowers, smell skunky and grow in little bouquets

mimulus nanus
That can sometimes get patchy...

hot pink monkey pox
Or even sweepy...

monkey plague
But always beautiful (Sage Hen Summit, Eastern Sierra Nevada, Mono County, 2011)

Ah, monkeyflowers.

41 more species to see.

Send in the clowns. Send in the clowns.



  1. This is SUCH a fantastic post! Thank you for this showcase of Mimulus' beauty!

  2. Ken
    What a show! Be sure to look into the flowers of the M. aurantiacus after dark for a metallic green bee-fly. They often sleep in the flowers and are well worth seeing.

    1. Will do. Thanks for the pointer.

  3. Wow! Awesome collection, beautifully photographed. Looking forward to your discovering and posting the remaining 41!

  4. Absolutely awesome photos! It sounds like you took all of these yourself. As a self-confessed monkeyflower maniac, I'm impressed. Really impressed!

    1. Thanks camissonia. I'm only 1/3 of the way through the CA species, though! ;)

  5. Really beautiful! I actually grow about a dozen of these species in a greenhouse.


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