MONKEY FLOWER – Mimulus guttatus: Scrophulariaceae
The plant: likes its feet in water – seen by streams and in damp areas. Came to Europe from the Aleutian Islands between Alaska and Russia where the climate is pretty awful: it is cold and foggy and there are over 250 days of rain each year. Has adapted well to U.K. conditions and after first being planted as a garden plant it was soon seen in the wild – by 1824. Now it can be seen on the sides of many streams – as here by the River Pont in Ponteland, Newcastle upon Tyne. Grows to about fifty cm – but sometimes more. Has become naturalised quite widely but usually on lowland sites.
The flowers: are up to about four cm across. The lower lip is three lobed and the upper lip two. Small red spots can be seen in the corolla of the flower. Seen June to September.
The leaves: These are oval in shape: the upper ones are unstalked.
BLOOD-DROP-EMLETS – Mimulus luteus: Scrophulariaceae
The plant: usually seen by the side of streams and rivers, or in damp earth. The plants photographed were in Upper Teesdale at a height of about 400m and I have seen other large clusters on Cheviot in Northumberland at a height of about 500m. They are virtually absent in the south of England. Grow to about 50cm and otherwise are much like the monkey flower except for the very striking markings on the flowers. The plants were first imported from Chile as garden plants in 1826 and like their cousins the monkey flower soon escaped the confines of gardens. However both the monkey flower and the blood-drop-emlets are still used extensively in garden for their striking flower displays. Are less common than the monkey flower.
The flowers: like the monkey flower except for the very striking red markings shown on the plants photographed. Flower June to September
The leaves: Largely oval with the upper ones being unstalked and “clasping” the stem.
Names, mythology, uses and folk-lore: The plants are edible – but are very salty and one would not usually use the plant as a source of food. They are pollinated by bees. The plant seems not to have attracted modern herbalists. Their relatively recent introduction to the U.K. came after some of the older herbalists had lived.