MONKEYFLOWER





(Minulus ringens) Figwort family



Flowers - Purple, violet, or lilac, rarely whitish; about 1 in.

long, solitary, borne on slender footstems from axils of upper

leaves. Calyx prismatic, 5-angled, 5-toothed; corolla irregular,

tubular, narrow in throat, 2-lipped; upper lip 2-lobed, erect;

under lip 3-lobed, spreading; 4 stamens, a long and a short pair,

inserted on corolla tube; pistil with 2-lobed, plate-like stigma.

Stem: Square, erect, usually branched, 1 to 3 ft. high. Leaves:

Opposite, oblong to lance-shaped, saw-edged, mostly seated on

stem.

Preferred Habitat - Swamps, beside streams and ponds.

Flowering Season - June-September.

Distribution - Manitoba, Nebraska, and Texas, eastward to

Atlantic Ocean.



No wader is the square-stemmed Monkey-flower whose grinning

corolla peers at one from grassy tuffets in swamps, from the

brookside, the springy soil of low meadows, and damp hollows

beside the road; but moisture it must have to fill its nectary

and to soften the ground for the easier transit of its creeping

rootstock. Imaginative eyes see what appears to them the gaping

(ringens) face of a little ape or buffoon (mimulus) in this

common flower whose drolleries, such as they are, call forth the

only applause desired - the buzz of insects that become

pollen-laden during the entertainment.



Now the advanced stigma of this flower is peculiarly irritable,

and closes up on contact with an incoming visitor's body, thus

exposing the pollen-laden anthers behind it, and, except in rare

cases, preventing self-fertilization. Delpino was the first to

guess what advantage so sensitive a stigma might mean. Probably

the smaller bees find the tube too long for their short tongues.

The yellow palate, which partially guards the entrance to the

nectary from pilferers, of course serves also as a pathfinder to

the long-tongued bees.





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