Saturday, October 10, 2015

Sticky monkeyflower growing in the shrubland of Rancho Corral de Tierra

Orange bush monkeyflower
A pair of tubular flowers of Mimulus aurantiacus, growing in Rancho Corral de Tierra
Rancho Corral de Tierra is rugged, chaparral-covered land between the upper ridges of the Montara Mountain and the Pacific coast in San Mateo County, California. Easily accessible, but steep trails, including French Trail and Clipper Ridge Trail, invite hikers to explore this open space terrain south of San Francisco. From almost everywhere along the Rancho ridges, the ocean vistas are breathtaking. Endangered and endemic species such as Hickman's cinquefoil and invasive species such as pampas grass from South America occur in Rancho. Also, sticky monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus) with its deep green sticky leaves grows and blooms on the dry soil of the rocky hillsides in Rancho, usually between March and September. Its long blooming season benefits nectar-thirsty hummingbirds for half the year.

Sticky monkeyflower is found throughout California and beyond, with flowers varying in color from pinkish white to brilliant red. The most common corolla color is yellow-orange. This color and the fact that plants grows up into branched shrubs explains the other name: orange bush monkeyflower.

The tubular flowers of the bush monkeyflower typically come in pairs. The picture above shows a pair of yellow-orange flowers of a plant found next to the upper Clipper Ridge Trail in mid-September. The picture also shows the opposite, lanceolate leaves with rolled-under edges.

Note: Depending on which of my field guides I am consulting, I am finding Minumuls aurantiacus, pronounced MIM-yoo-lus aw-ran-TIE-a-kus, grouped within the lopseed family (Phrymaceae) or within the snapdragon family or figworth family (Scrophulariaceae). My understanding is that Mimulus species had traditionally been placed in Scrophulariaceae, but are now classified as Phrymaceae based on DNA studies shining new light on phylogenetic relationships (see, for example, a paper by Beardsley and Olmstead in the American Journal of Botanty 2002, 89(7), pp. 1093-1102: Redefining Phrymaceae: The Placement of Mimulus, Tribe Mimuleae, and Phryma). Not enough, the scientific name has been changed from Mimulus aurantiacus to Diplacus aurantiacus: Welcome to monkeyflower science!

More about Mimulus aurantiacus:
Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy: Mimulus aurantiacus (Sticky Monkeyflower) [].
California Phenology Project: Sticky Monkeyflower (Diplacus auratiacus) [].
Michael L. Charters: Mimulus aurantiacus Curtis [].

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