Allegheny Monkey Floweror

Allegheny Monkey Floweror

Allegheny Monkey Flower

Mimulus ringens (Allegheny Monkey Flower) is a creeping, upright, deciduous perennial with opposite, lanceolate to oval, sharply-toothed green leaves, 2-4 in. long (5-10 cm), that clasp erect, square stems. Asymmetrical pale blue-violet, occasionally pink or white, 2-lipped tubular flowers, 1 in. long (2.5 cm), bloom nearly continuously from the leaf axils over a long season extending from early to fall. They attract butterflies, bumblebees and other pollinating insects. Both the foliage and flowers of this plant are quite attractive. Native to North America, Allegheny Monkey Flower occurs naturally in wet meadows, swamps, stream and pond borders, floodplains, drainage ditches. It is the perfect plant for a boggy location in the garden.


Mimulus ringens is a species of monkeyflower known by the common names Allegheny monkeyflower and square-stemmed monkeyflower. It is native to eastern and central North America, and there are occurrences in the western United States, some of which may represent introductions. It grows in a wide variety of wet habitat types. This is rhizomatous perennial growing 20 centimeters to well over a meter tall, its 4-angled stem usually erect. The oppositely arranged leaves are lance-shaped to oblong, up to 8 centimeters long, and sometimes joined or nearly so clasping the stem. The herbage is hairless. The flower 2 to 3 centimeters long, its tubular base encapsulated in a ribbed calyx of sepals with pointed lobes. The flower is lavender in color and divided into an upper lip and a larger, swollen lower lip. One variety of this plant, var. colophilus, is rare, ecologically restricted, and vulnerable. It is known from Quebec, it has been reported in Vermont, and there are a few occurrences in Maine, where it grows only in freshwater sections of tidal estuaries. This plant variety faces several threats, but its current status is not known due to a lack of data.

There is, however, an invasive species that poses a particular threat to Allegheny monkey flower. Lythrum salicaria, or purple loosestrife, is overtaking the riparian and wetland ecosystems of North America in an overwhelming wave. Purple loosestrife, invasive outside of Europe, is able to overtake large expanses of land within only a few seasons of being introduced, and has resulted in native wildflower species like M. ringens producing fewer and fewer seeds each year as pollination success drops off in concurrence with booming invasive loosestrife populations. Monkey flower has a somewhat unusual name, and is owed to its appearance. When in bloom, the petals in combination with the lighter patterning at the center of the flower can resemble a monkey’s face. “Allegheny” is in honor of the Allegheny River running through New York and Pennsylvania, along which this species was first discovered. “Mimulus” translates to “mimic” in Latin, referring to the way the flower mimics the appearance of a monkey’s face, while “ringens” translates to “gaping,” in reference to the gap that exists between the petals of the two-lipped flower. (Source: pondinformer.com)


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