Lewis’ Monkeyflower

There are over 100 “monkeyflowers” throughout the world. The largest percentage of them are found in the Western United States. Over the years I introduced several monkeyflowers. Another member of this large group is Lewis’ monkeyflower (Erythranthe lewisii). A synonym is Mimulus lewisii. An alternate common name for this native perennial is pink monkeyflower.

Lewis’ monkeyflower grows in and along streams, particularly cold ones, wet clearings, springs and seeps, often among rocks and boulders. It can be found from about 4,000 to 10,000 feet from southeast Alaska through British Columbia and Alberta, south to California and east to Utah and Colorado.

A member of the Lopseed Family (Phrymaceae), Lewis’ monkeyflower is a tall plant that arises from stout, branching rhizomes. The entire plant is sticky and softly hairy. The leaves clasp the stems in pairs, are ovate to lanceolate, are conspicuously veined and have pointed tips. There are widely spaced teeth on the margins.

The rose red or purplish to pale pink Lewis’ monkeyflower flowers occur on long stalks in the upper leaf axils. The five sepals are fused and end in a sharp tip. The petals are fused into a trumpet shape with two lips, the upper lip has two lobes and the lower lip has three lobes. Each lobe is slightly notched at the tip. The center of the flower is whitish.Two nectar glands are located on the lower lip. The nectar glands are yellow, hairy and speckled with red blotches. The flower has a superior ovary and four stamens.

Lewis’ monkeyflower fruits are capsules containing thousands of seeds.

Bees pollinate Lewis’ monkeyflowers. Hummingbirds also visit.

The species designation honors Captain Meriweather Lewis (1774-1809) of Lewis and Clark Expedition fame.

These Lewis’ monkeyflowers were photographed in June in a wet meadow along the Castle Crest Trail in Crater Lake National Park OR.

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