Flower of the Day: Winged Monkeyflower

Mimulus alatus; Phyrmaceae (lopseed family)

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(The genus Mimulus is also placed in the figwort family by some authorities.)

Winged monkeyflower is found in the eastern US, and is listed as a plant of special concern in Connecticut, threatened in Iowa, endangered in Massachusetts, probably extirated in Michigan, and rare in New York.

It might not be rare in Maryland, but I consider myself lucky to have found it. I knew exactly where to look, and when, and there it was.  But I was hiking with Steve, who doesn’t like to stand around for half an hour while I photograph the same plant over and over, so I took a few very quick pictures and decided to come back a few days later for a more leisurely photo shoot.

When I say exactly, I mean exactly – I know exactly which fallen log over which seasonal stream these plants stand by.  And when I went back a few days later – nothing.  No flowers, anyway.  Top part of the plants missing, too.  Deer browse.

Always take the time to get a few good pictures, for you never know what the future holds.

Anyway, this is the sister plant to the Aug 1 FOTD (Allegheny monkeyflower). A few characteristics set them apart:

  • The leaves of M. alatus have long winged petioles, while the leaves of M. ringens are sessile.
  • The flowers of M. alatus have very short pedicels, while those of M. ringens are very long.
  • M. alatus flowers tend to be pink; M. ringens flowers tend to be light purple.

Of the 91 species of Mimulus listed in the USDA plants database, these are the only two found in Maryland.

DSC_0045M. alatus (winged monkeyflower)

M. ringens (Allegheny monkeyflower) 20140729-DSC_0002

Flower of the Day: Allegheny Monkeyflower

Mimulus ringens; Scrophulariaceae (figwort family)

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Sometimes I’m just not going to get a good picture. I found this plant on two occasions. Both times, it was growing right at the edge of the canal, about ten feet away down a steep, poison-ivy covered bank. I’ll do a lot for a good picture, but I have limits.

There are three monkeyflowers found in this area; one of the others is called winged monkeyflower, a name that starts music from a certain seminal color motion picture start playing in my mind.  I found that one last summer in a marsh at the foot of Carderock but haven’t seen it this year.

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This one is found all over the US and Canada except the mountain West.  It can grow up to three feet tall, and obviously likes wet soils and full sun.