Chickweed Monkeyflower

Previously I always put monkeyflowers into the genus, Mimulus, by default. However, as a result of recent DNA and other analyses most monkeyflowers are now classified in three other genera. It is difficult to remain up to date on all these new taxonomy changes.

Chickweed monkeyflower (Erythranthe alsinoides) was, until about a year ago, known as Mimulus alsinoides, a designation that remains prevalent in the literature. This native annual is now a member of the Lopseed Family (Phrymaceae) instead of Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family).  Erythranthe comes from the Greek and means red flower – “erythros” (red) and “anthos” (flower). The species name means “like alsine”, the Greek and Latin name for a chickweed-like plant.

Also commonly called wingstem monkeyflower, E alsinoides grows in small clumps. The erect stems are reddish. The stalked, opposite leaves are green to red-tinged with 3 to 5 prominent veins, an elliptical to egg-shaped outline and irregular teeth.

One to a few bright yellow flowers on reddish pedicels (stalks) occur at each node. The 5 sepals are fused into a ridged, toothed, hairy calyx. The five chickweed monkeyflower petals are united into a two-lipped tube (corolla). The upper lip has two lobes while the lower consists of three lobes. The inside of the corolla tube is hairy. Four epipetalous (attached at base to the petals) stamens and a superior ovary with one style and two stigma lobes complete the flower. The two stigma lobes have a receptive inner surface which folds together when touched by a pollinator. There is a reddish brown blotch on the lower lip with smaller red dots going into the throat.

Chickweed monkeyflower fruits are pointed, oblong capsules containing many seeds.

The chickweed monkeyflower habitat is shady wet areas, often in damp mossy crevices of rock cliffs, mostly at low elevations. The range includes British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California and Idaho.

These chickweed monkeyflower were growing on the rock face near the top of the Lower Table Rock Trail near Medford Oregon (Jackson County).


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1 Response to Chickweed Monkeyflower

  1. tonytomeo says:

    Yes, it is difficult to keep up with all the name changes, both because so many get updated to be more accurate, but also because (in the nursery industry) so many new cutivars and hybrids are becoming available. I just wrote about ‘promiscuity’ in one of my rants on Wednesday, although it is a completely different reason for the confusion with nomenclature in regard to the shickweed monkeyflower.

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