Mimulus alatus, winged monkeyflower, is an upright native perennial herbaceous plant that blooms in the summer.
In NJ, there are 2 species of monkeyflowers: Mimulus alatus, winged monkeyflower, and Mimulus ringens, Allegheny monkeyflower. They look alike can be distinguished by the lengths of their pedicels (flower stalks) and their petioles(leaf stalks). Illustrations will be presented below.
The winged monkeyflower's irregularly shaped flowers are pale blue-violet-whitish and about 1 inch wide. The flower corolla forms 2 glandular hairy lips. The upper lip is upright with two lobes. The lower lip has 3 lobes. The lower middle lobe has 2 raised hairy yellow areas ("palate") reducing the opening of the throat.
The tubular green calyx is formed by the fusion 5 sepals with 5 ridges ending in short linear teeth. The calyx is about 3/4 inches long. The pedicel (flower stalk) is very short.
Left photo shows the flat stigma. The flower has two pairs of stamens of different lengths as shown in the right photo. Both photos are viewed from the top.
Hairs and glands on the petals and back of throat. Pinkish-white stigma is just below the upper lip.
The solitary flowers grow singly from the leaf axils. Since the leaves are opposite, sometimes flowers will appear from both leaf axils. The flowers are scattered around the plant but generally near the top which is most likely better for pollination. The flowers are mainly pollinated by bees which are strong enough to pry open the lips to access the nectar.
Fruit: After the flower is pollinated, the corolla and the attached stamens are no longer need and are discarded. The pistil is in the calyx area and the stigma is persistent. Photo of developing fruit. Later, the calyx will turn brown and dry up.
The leaves are simple, opposite and have petioles (leaf stalks), so the leaves are not sessile or claspiing. The leaves are up to 5 inches long tapering to a pointed tip. The margins have widely spaced teeth.
M. alatus vs M. ringens
Some distinguishing features between M. alatus and its look alike M. ringens:
Winged monkeyflower, M. alatus:
- Flower has short pedicel (flower stalk),
less than half inch
- Leaves have petioles (leaf stalk),
longer than half inch
- Calyx teeth are short (blue arrow in photo)
Allegheny monkeyflower, M. ringens:
- Flower has a long pedicel (flower stalk),
longer than 3/4 inch.
- Leaves are sessile - no petiole (no leaf stalk)
- Calyx teeth are long (blue arrow in photo)
Winged monkeyflower is less common than Allegheny monkeyflower.
The winged monkeyflower plant grows to about 3 ft. tall. The stem is erect and branches. The stem is smooth, hairless and close to the base is 4 angled.
Habitat: wet areas in partial sun.
Text by Millie Ling and all photos by Hubert & Millie Ling. Photos: flowers - August, Somerset County NJ.
Additional information / references:
- The USDA database shows Mimulus alatus distribution in the US and other information: https://plants.usda.gov/home/plantProfile?symbol=MIAL2
- Illinois Wildflowers : https://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/wetland/plants/winged_monkey.htm
- Missouriplants- good information and photos: https://www.missouriplants.com/mimulus_alatus_page.html
- Jersey-Friendly Yards - great gardening information: https://www.jerseyyards.org/plant/mimulus-alatus/
- FNA: http://beta.floranorthamerica.org/Mimulus_alatus