A rounded perennial shrub that varies in height from 10 cm-1.5 m tall (4 in- 5 ft). The upper surface of the narrow, dark green leaves are hairless but often sticky (hence the name of the plant!) The flowers are tubular at the base with five broad lobes (two above and three below). The color of the flowers varies -- petals can be white, yellow-tan, yellow, orange, or red.
Monkey flowers all have showy colorful flowers with a distinctive shape - long tubes with two lips, two larger rounded lobes above and three squarish lower lobes (a "monkey face"). Sticky monkey flower is distinctive in having showy yellow, orange or white flowers, and a woody stem with hairless (but sticky) leaves. The closely related M. clevelandii and M. longiflorus have fine hairs on either or both the upper and lower sides of the leaves. M. longiflorus also has hairy sepals and red flowers.
Did You Know?
Monkey flowers get their name from the distinctive shape of the petals, forming a "face". In most species of Mimulus, the two-lobed stigma is highly sensitive to touch; if you touch the open stigma with your finger, it will close within seconds, trapping pollen inside and providing a stigmatic surface that is highly favorable to pollen germination. Monkey flower species often can pollinate one another resulting in plants with many different colors - and sometimes confusing botanists as to what species they really are!
The dark green leaves vary in length from about 0.8 to 3 in (2 to 8 cm). The leaves are linear and narrow throughout the leaf’s length but sometimes wider at the base. The edges are often rolled towards the lower surface, and the upper surface is hairless but often sticky (hence the name of the plant!).
The leaves are simple, somewhat oval in shape, and alternate along the branches. The wooly-hairy buds are an important distinguishing feature of an apple tree. The leaves are generally 1 to 3.25 in (2.5 to 8.3 cm) long and 1 to 2.5 in (2.5 to 6.35 cm) wide. The leaves have smooth to shallow, rounded teeth on the margins. The upper surface is dark to olive green and the lower surface is white-hairy. The leaves turn yellow in the fall.
The fruits are small, elongated, pointy-tipped, dry, papery capsules 0.5 to 0.78 in (12 to 20 mm) long and 0.2 to 0.4 in (5 to 10 mm) in diameter splitting open along sutures at their tips, releasing dozens or hundreds of tiny, wind-dispersed seeds
Sticky monkey flower is common on rocky slopes, cliffs, and the slopes of canyons throughout the California Floristic Province (western and central California) and in the Sonoran Desert, often in disturbed soils at the edges of chaparral or open forests.
The buds form during spring with flowers appearing throughout spring and summer. The fruits and seeds ripen throughout summer.