Erythranthe nasuta

by Doreen Smith

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Erythranthe nasuta – Vernon Smith

The plant of the month for April is Marin’s small annual monkeyflower, Erythranthe nasuta.

Recent taxonomic work has led to the re-naming of all the California native Mimulus. Now they are classified into the genera Erythranthe, Diplacus and Mimetanthe. Marin’s particular species of small annual monkeyflower, Erythranthe nasuta, can be abundant in seasonal serpentine seeps including those on Mount Tamalpais in the “barren” area above Bootjack Camp.  The plants die once their habitat has dried up in the summer. (Until recently this species of annual monkey flower was lumped with the larger perennial monkeyflower Erythranthe guttata. Those robust  perennials need a habitat with permanent moisture to survive). Some may wonder why they were ever called “monkeyflowers”. One reason is the design made by the spotty nectar-guides on the lip of the corolla in some populations. The example with “faces” shown below is from the Leiss Ranch in Chileno valley. MALT normally offers a fund-raising wildflower walk along the floriferous serpentine rock exposure there each spring. This year it has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Photos by Vernon Smith