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Mimulus tilingii

   The two Monkey Flowers shown on this page are very difficult to tell apart, and, in fact, some botanists have treated them and some continue to treat them as one species. Harrington says, "[I] cannot separate [Erythranthe tilingii] from E. guttatus...."  
Intermountain Flora
indicates "Erythranthe tilingii is not always sharply distinct from E. guttata."  

    Other botanists have separated the two species, but some of those separations have been reconsidered and the species have been re-united. Nesom's work of 2019 updates his earlier work of the 21st century and indicates that almost all plants recognized as E. guttata are in fact a morphological variant: E. guttata morph minor. I asked Nesom what it would be best to call the Colorado species previously known as E. guttata: "I'd call them just E. guttata" he said.

     The 2023 version of Kartesz's Synthesis eliminates E. guttata from almost all of Colorado and much of New Mexico and Wyoming and replaces it with E. minor.

    The following paragraphs were written when both E. guttata and E. tilingii were considered distinct species.

     Guy Nesom has published several studies of Erythranthe and relatives. In "TAXONOMY OF ERYTHRANTHE SECT. SIMIOLA (PHRYMACEAE) IN THE USA AND MEXICO" his key indicates:

10a. Rhizomes filiform, usually branching, prolifically produced and forming a mass.........E. tilingii
10b. Rhizomes broader than filiform, usually 1-few, not highly branched and forming a mass...E. guttata

14a. Corolla tube-throats 15–25 mm, exserted 5–10 mm beyond the calyx margin....E. tilingii
17a. C
orolla tube-throats (10–)12–20 mm, exserted 3–5 mm beyond the calyx margin....E. guttata

     From other treatments we find the following:

1) E. guttata stems have more flowers, often over five; M. tilingii often has only one-to-three flowers per stem. 
2) E. guttata flowers are smaller, usually less than two centimeters; M. tilingii flowers are two-to-four centimeters. 
3) E. guttata is taller, often over two decimeters; M. tilingii is usually less than two decimeters. 
4) E. guttata "rarely [has] distinct creeping rhizomes"; M. tilingii has "definite creeping, sod-forming rhizomes" (Weber's words). 
5) E. guttata is most often a plant of montane streams; M. tilingii is typically found along upper subalpine and alpine wet areas.

    The photograph at the top of the page shows what was considered E. tilingii along Wildcat Canyon Stream; flowering stems are short, the plant has only one or two flowers per stem, and the plant spreads in a matted colony.

    The Mimulus genus was named by Linnaeus in 1753; the name is derived from "mimus" ("buffoon") for the clownish appearance of the flower as you stare into the corolla. In California in the early 1830s David Douglas discovered the first Mimulus cardinalis for science, and in 1840 the French botanist Edouard Spach (1801-1879) created Erythranthe, a new genus for it.

     Erythranthe is from the Greek "erythr" ("red") and "anthos" ("flower").

    In 2012 expert botanist Guy Nesom and co-authors published a revised taxonomic classification of Phrymaceae in which most species in the genus Mimulus were moved to the genus Erythranthe. Genetic research has shown that Erythranthe and Mimulus belong in the Lopseed Family (Phrymaceae), not in the Snapdragon Family (Scrophulariaceae).

   Click to read more about Erythranthe and Phrymaceae:
1) Nesom 2012
2) Nesom et al., "Response to the case for the Continued Use of the genus Mimulus for all Monkeyflowers
3) Mimulus Taxonomy.

Click for Erythranthe rubella and Erythranthe suksdorfii.

This is a native species.

Mimulus guttatus

Erythranthe guttata. Synonyms: Mimulus guttatus, Erythranthe minor. (Yellow Monkeyflower)
Phrymaceae (Lopseed Family)
Formerly Scrophulariaceae

Montane, subalpine. Streamsides. Summer.
Lower Scotch Creek Road, July 1, 2004.

Monkey flowers are common at many elevations along and in streams. They are an eye-catching very bright yellow.  They can appear as scattered plants or they can be in masses.  Watch for them whenever a small rivulet crosses your trail in the mountains.

Augustin de Candolle named this species in 1813 apparently from plants grown from seeds from an unknown collector. However, Meriwether Lewis collected this species July 4, 1806 near the Clarks Fork River in Montana. Click to read why Lewis' collection is not considered the type.

The specific epithet, "guttata", is from the Latin for "drops" or "specks" referring to the tiny red dots on the inside of the petals.

Mimulus guttatus

Erythranthe guttata. Synonyms: Mimulus guttatus, Erythranthe minor. (Yellow Monkeyflower)
Phrymaceae (Lopseed Family)

Montane, subalpine. Streamsides. Summer.
Groundhog Meadow Trail, July 31, 2004.

Mimulus guttatus

Erythranthe guttata. Synonyms: Mimulus guttatus, Erythranthe minor. (Yellow Monkeyflower)
Phrymaceae (Lopseed Family)

Montane, subalpine. Streamsides. Summer.
Groundhog Meadow Trail, July 31, 2004.

 

This is a native species.

Erythranthe tilingii. Synonym: Mimulus tilingii. (Tiling's Monkeyflower, Subalpine Monkeyflower)
Phrymaceae (Lopseed Family)
Formerly Scrophulariaceae

Subalpine and alpine. Streamsides. Summer.
Wildcat Trail, August 15, 2007.

Guy Nesom's research of 2019 indicates that Erythranthe tilingii cannot be separated from E. guttata. They are one species: E. guttata. I have left E. tilingii on this page for historical purposes and because it helps show the difficulties in classifying species.

Erythranthe tilingii often spreads from rhizomes and thus may be found in large mats.  In this photograph, the mat is about fifteen inches long and seven wide, but flowering stems are only six inches tall.

E. tilingii normally is found at subalpine and alpine elevations, but I found this plant at the side of Wildcat Stream at only 8,000 feet. The nearby south canyon wall is extremely steep and cold air must settle around these plants making them quite comfortable even at the low elevation. There are several other subalpine plants nearby and it is clear that conditions favor these plants out of their normal environment. The photograph at the top of the page is also of E. tilingii along Wildcat Canyon Stream.

According to Guy Nesom, Flora of North America expert on Erythranthe, the species known now as "Erythranthe tilingii in Colorado will be known as Erythranthe minor A. Nelson", for it has "much smaller corollas than [the] westward" species.

Erythranthe tilingii. Synonym: Mimulus tilingii. (Tiling's Monkeyflower, Subalpine Monkeyflower)
Phrymaceae (Lopseed Family)

Subalpine and alpine. Streamsides. Summer.
Wildcat Trail, August 15, 2007.

Eduard Regel named this species in 1869 from specimens he grew from seeds sent him by S. H. Tiling, Russian botanist who collected the seeds in Nevada City, California in 1868.  Click for more biographical information about Tiling.

Mimulus tilingii
On a lush alpine slope along a rivulet from melting snow,
Erythranthe tilingii spreads in a thick mat.
Placer Gulch, July 20, 2013.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Erythranthe guttatus

Range map for Erythranthe tilingii