Allegheny monkeyflower (Mimulus ringens)
square-stemmed monkey flower
SCIENTIFIC SYNONYMS: There are no scientific synonyms for
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Pending confirmation.
TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name of Allegheny
monkeyflower is Mimulus ringens L. There are two Mimulus ssp. listed
in the Atlas of Virginia Flora - Mimulus ringens (monkey flower) and
Mimulus alatus (winged monkey flower). The former has flowers on
pedicels that are longer than the tubular calyx (½" or more), leaves
that are sessile or clasping, and stems that are 4-angled, but not con-
spicuously winged. The latter species has flowers that are nearly
sessile, leaves that have distinct petioles, and stems that are both 4-
angled and conspicuously winged. In my experience, monkeyflower
usually has blue-violet flowers, while winged monkeyflower usually
has pink flowers, but this distinction may not generalize to all areas.
NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States and Canada.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
Habit: This native perennial plant is 1-3' tall, branching frequently to
create a bushy appearance. The stems are hairless and 4-angled, but not
Leaves: The opposite leaves are up to 4" long and 1" across. They are
lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate, hairless, and serrated along the margins.
The base of a leaf is either sessile or somewhat eared (auriculate); if the
latter, it clasps the stem.
Flowers: Individual flowers develop from the leaf axils of the upper stems.
These flowers are about 1" long, and have two-lipped corollas that are
usually blue-violet (less often, pink or white). The upper lip of the corolla
has 2 erect lobes, while the lower lip has 3 rounded lobes. The inner sur-
face of the lower lip often has 2 small ridges. The throat of the corolla has
a patch of yellow and is barely open because of an abundance of fuzzy
hairs. The tubular calyx is green and has 5 long teeth that taper gradually
to a point. There is no floral scent.
Fruit/Seeds: Each flower is replaced by a rounded seed capsule that con-
tains numerous tiny seeds with a reticulated surface. The seeds are dispers-
ed by wind or water.
Roots: The root system consists of a taproot and rhizomes. This plant can
spread vegetatively, but it isn't a strong colonizer.
REGENERATION PROCESS: Allegheny monkeyflower propagates
through seed dispersal and, to a limited extent, vegetatively by rhizomes.
HABITAT TYPES: Habitats include floodplain forests (particularly in
partially sunny areas), swamps, seeps, muddy borders of small streams or
ponds, drainage ditches, and wet meadows. It typically occurs in areas that
are prone to occasional flooding or standing water.
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Allegheny monkeyflower prefers full or
partial sun, rich loamy soil, and wet conditions. This plant will also grow
in soil that is consistently moist, particularly in partially shaded situations.
The foliage isn't bothered by foliar disease to any significant degree, al-
though it will turn yellow and shrivel away in response to droughty con-
ditions. The size of a plant is strongly influenced by moisture conditions
and soil fertility.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: The blooming period occurs from mid -
to late summer (June - September).
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Allegheny monkeyflower is distributed
widely in the United States and Canada. It does not occur naturally in
only certain southwestern areas (e.g., Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, and
Utah) and is not found in the northern territories of Canada or in British
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: To be determined.
IMPORTANCE AND USES: Bees, butterflies, and skippers suck nectar,
syrphid flies probably feed on pollen, while the wasp either sucks nectar
or explores the flowers; the larger long-tongued bees are effective pol-
linators, while the remaining insects are probably non-pollinating.
Bumblebees suck nectar as they are one of the few insects that are
strong enough to force their way into the partially closed throat of the
corolla. The caterpillars of the moth Elaphria chalcedona (chalcedony
midget) feed on the foliage. Some authorities state that the caterpillars
of the butterfly Euphydryas phaeton (Baltimore) feed on monkey flower.
The seeds are too small to be of much value to birds, while little appears
to be known about the food value of this plant to mammalian herbivores.
The foliage is neither particularly bitter nor known to be toxic.
Crooked Run Valley