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...
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
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 Monkeyflower, Mimulus pilosus, with long silvery hairs
Mimulus floribundus, the Many-flowered Monkeyflower, is more finely furred
Musk Monkeyflower, Mimulus moschatus, is a low-grower with big tubes
Primrose Monkeys, Mimulus primuloides, have wire-stems, and like bogs and wetlands
Whitney's Monkeyflower, Mimulus whitneyi, grows in dry soils and is occasionally pink
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 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
Cardinal Monkeyflower, Mimulus cardinalis, is a perennial that grows in streamside patches, and is very popular with hummingbirds
Lewis' Monkeyflowers, Mimulus lewisii, likes waterfront property too
The wiry Mimulus layneae, Layne's Monkeyflower, hides in hillside grasslands
While the upright Bolander's Monkeyflower, Mimulus bolanderi, prefers a bit of cover
Parish's Monkeyflower, Mimulus parishii, is similar to guttatus and likes seeps
Fremont's Monkeyflower, Mimulus fremontii, is a belly plant of dry habitats
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
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
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 that's made for you and me..."
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, Mimulus kelloggii, turn flat faces to the sun
And Mimulus nanus, Dwarf Monkeyflowers, smell skunky and grow in little bouquets
That can sometimes get patchy...
Or even sweepy...
But always beautiful (Sage Hen Summit, Eastern Sierra Nevada, Mono County, 2011)
41 more species to see.
Send in the clowns. Send in the clowns.