Allegheny Monkey Flower

This pretty purple flower is a recently established plant on the banks of the farm pond.  The seeds were probably carried there by wild birds.  Following my new policy of identifying any unknown plants in case they are invasive pests, I looked this little beauty up.  It is the Allegheny Monkey Flower, (Mimulus ringens) also written monkeyflower or monkey-flower.  Presumably someone sees a monkey face when they look at the bloom.  I actually don’t.  But, I do see a very pretty and bright flower in an otherwise green landscape.

The monkey flower has a square stem.  It grows in wetland habitats, just above the water line where it is moist, but not inundated.  I found three plants.  Next year there will doubtless be more if they fruit successfully.  The plant is native to New England.  Where wetland has been disturbed and invasive purple loosestrife have taken hold, the monkey flower is out competed by loosestrife because pollinators tend to favor the invasive flowers.  Happily for the monkey flower, there is no purple loosestrife allowed at our pond.

Monkey flower blooms June-September.  It forms seed pods that split open when ripe.  The plant is a perennial of the Lopseed family.  It acts as a host to larvae of the Baltimore Checkerspot and Common Buckeye butterflies.  Overall, this wildflower seems innocuous, even beneficial.  It surely adds beauty as the flowers are my favorite color.  It may stay on our farm.

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