Know Your Natives – Sharp wing monkey-flower

This attractive species rewards those intrepid native plant enthusiasts willing to brave the heat, humidity and insects of summer.

A member of the Lopseed (Phrymaceae) family, sharp wing monkey-flower (Mimulus alatus) blooms from June through September, with a peak in August.

Mimulus alatus - Sharp Wing monkey-flower

Sharp wing monkey-flower growing along Rock Creek in Boyle Park in Little Rock

It is found in almost every county in Arkansas. Outside of Arkansas it can be found from Connecticut south to Florida and as far west as Texas and Nebraska.

The common name refers to the winged stems and the resemblance of the flower to the face of a monkey.

Mimulus alatus - Sharp Wing monkey-flower

A closeup of the bilabiate (two-lipped) flowers

Found in wet to moist conditions, you can find the species in bloom along small creeks and streams, sometimes growing from the bed of the creek.

Mimulus alatus - Sharp Wing monkey-flower

The center of each flower has a white and yellow beard, serving as a landing pad of sorts to guide insects in for pollination

Most plants only open a few flowers each day, with each flower lasting two or three days. Bumblebees are the most common pollinator to visit the flowers.

Many of you know the monkey-flowers to be in the Figwort (Scrophulariaceae) family. Recent taxonomic studies have determined several genera of plants once thought to be in the Figwort family are in fact more closely related to Lopseed (Phryma) and so have been moved into Phrymaceae.

Article and photographs by ANPS member Eric Hunt

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About Eric Hunt

Botanical Photographer living in Little Rock, Arkansas
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