Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Coastal BC Plants: Chickweed Monkeyflower

Chickweed Monkeyflower

Tiny Chickweed Monkeyflowers
I was walking up the stairs to my hillside potato patch and saw a few small yellow flowers along the cliff among the moss. I took several pictures and went to my nature guides to make an identification. It turned out to be Chickweed Monkeyflower (Mimulus alsinoides).

This tiny Monkeyflower is a member of the figwort family. One guide calls it a snapdragon, and that’s what it looked like to me. It’s an annual plant, but I don’t remember seeing it before. That could be because it blooms briefly in April (things are a bit late this year due to an extended winter) and because the flowers are only 8-14 mm (1/3 to 1/2 inches) long and the plant itself about 10 cm tall (4 inches).

The flowers stand out because they are bright yellow with a reddish-brown spot on the lower petal. They rise on a slender stalk with small egg-shaped light green leaves.

Chickweed Monkeyflowers grow on moist, shady moss covered cliffs and rocky slopes at lower elevations. Mine was on a granite cliff near the lake surface at an elevation of 155 feet.

Plants use flowers to attract pollinators such as bees. They also attract the attention of passing humans who take the time to go slow and look around. -- Margy

References: Plants and Animals of the Pacific Northwest by Eugene N. Kozloff (Greystone Books, 1995), Trees Shrubs and Flowers to know in British Columbia by C.P. Lyons (J. M. Dent and Sons (Canada) Limited, 1974), and Plants of Coastal British Columbia by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon (Lone Pine Publishing, 1994).

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We welcome your comments and questions. - Wayne and Margy