Mimulus d. aurantiacus

(bush monkeyflower plant)

One commonly propagated native wildflower is Mimulus d. Aurantiacus, or sticky monkeyflower plant, also known as the bush monkeyflower. The bush monkey flower is native to the coast and coastal ranges of California, stretching from northern Baja California to Oregon. It appears naturally in a wide variety of habitats including chaparral, oak woodlands, redwood forests, disturbed environments and serpentine cliffs. It will grow in just about any soil type, including serpentine soils, as long as it is well drained and not over watered. The plant is drought tolerant and cold tolerant.

Mimulus aurantiacus grows as a semi-woody perennial shrub which can get up to four feet tall. It is characterized by its sticky, resinous leaves and its colorful tubular flowers, which are said to look like the jovial faces of grinning monkeys. The blossoms appear in late spring, last throughout summer, and are generally a pale orange color, but can range in hue from creamy white to deep red. The flowers are pollinated by a variety of welcome garden visitors, including hummingbirds and native bees. Checkerspot butterflies lay their eggs on the leaves of the sticky monkeyflower plant. Checkerspot caterpillars eat the resinous leaves, which contain toxins that make the caterpillar and butterfly distasteful to birds.

This plant had many medicinal uses for the native people of California. According to the National Park Service, Coast Miwok peoples would crush the resinous leaves, which have supposed antiseptic qualities, and apply them to sores and burns. The roots were used to treat fever, dysentery, diarrhea and hemorrhages. The Pomo peoples would create soothing eye drops from a sticky monkey flower floral concoction.

This attractive, low maintenance plant brings beauty, birds, bees, and butterflies to any garden.