These flowers are planted all along the edges of the waterfall at Lake Charles and just looking at them makes me smile. So I asked our landscaper, Louise Leff, what they were. She says Mimulus guttatus which out of Latin is “Seep Monkey Flower”. Apparently so called because it likes seepage areas near creeks. But looking closely at my picture and the wildflower information here, it looks more like its cousin, the even more humorously named, Sticky Monkey Flower (Mimulus aurantiacus).
Doesn’t much matter to me. Both fulfill my criteria for the perfect flowers: they’re native, they tolerate drought, bees and hummingbirds love them and deer avoid them. Having spent a goodly amount planting supposedly deer-proof plants, only to find OUR deer are adventurous eaters, this last is key.
There’s one more thing to recommend the Monkey Flower (Sticky or Seep). It’s got a Native American heritage. Seems the Coast Miwoks (who would have migrated through our land at some point, I’m assuming) used the crushed leaves to treat sores and burns. The roots were used to treat fever, dysentery, diarrhea and hemorrhages. Coastanoan Indians used a plant tea of Monkey Flower to treat kidney and bladder problems. Pomo Indians used an infusion of the flowers as a wash for smoke-irritated eyes. Other medicinal uses included treatment for colds, flu, epilepsy, stomachache and poisoning. Not enough? Throw some stems and leaves in a steambath to treat chest and back soreness.
Where am I getting all this? Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs, another in the series of Peterson Field Guides by those great folks who put out the “Bumper Book of Poo”, the handbook for identifying the scat of anything.
It’s comforting to know that, besides looking good and hopefully bringing my bees back, these flowers will fix me up right should I come down with. . .well, just about anything. Apparently these flowers are all over California. Look for them.