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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 treat them as the same species.  Harrington says, "[I] cannot separate [Mimulus tilingii] from M. guttatus...."   Intermountain Flora indicates "Mimulus tilingii is not always sharply distinct from M. guttatus."  

    The key factors that might separate the two seem to be: 1) M. guttatus stems have more flowers, often over five; M. tilingii often has only one-to-three flowers per stem.  2) M. guttatus flowers are smaller, usually less than two centimeters; M. tilingii flowers are two-to-four centimeters.  3) M. guttatus is taller, often over two decimeters; M. tilingii is usually less than two decimeters.  4) M. guttatus "rarely [has] distinct creeping rhizomes"; M. tilingii has "definite creeping, sod-forming rhizomes" (Weber's words).  5) M. guttatus 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 M. tilingii along Wildcat Canyon Stream; flowering stems are short, the plant has only one or two flowers per stem, and the plant is spread in a colony.

    The 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.

    Genetic research over the past decades has shown that Mimulus belongs in the Lopseed Family (Phrymaceae), not in the Snapdragon Family (Scrophulariaceae).

Mimulus guttatus

Mimulus guttatus (Monkeyflower)
Phrymaceae (Lopseed Family)
Formerly Scrophulariaceae

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

Monkey flowers are common at many altitudes 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; the specific epithet is from the Latin for "drops" or "specks" referring to the tiny red dots on the inside of the petals. 

Mimulus guttatus

Mimulus guttatus (Monkeyflower)
Phrymaceae (Lopseed Family)

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

Mimulus guttatus

Mimulus guttatus (Monkeyflower)
Phrymaceae (Lopseed Family)

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

Mimulus tilingii variety tilingii (Monkeyflower)
Phrymaceae (Lopseed Family)
Formerly Scrophulariaceae

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

Mimulus 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 only six inches tall.

M. 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 M. tilingii along Wildcat Canyon Stream.)

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

Mimulus tilingii variety tilingii (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.  (More biographical information about Tiling.)

Mimulus tilingii
Mimulus tilingii
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 Mimulus guttatus

Range map for Mimulus tilingii