|Erythranthe lewisii in Mount Rainier National Park|
(Pursh) G.L.Nesom & N.S.Fraga
Erythranthe lewisii (Lewis' monkeyflower, great purple monkeyflower) is a perennial plant in the family Phrymaceae. It is named in honor of explorer Meriwether Lewis. Together with other species in Erythranthe, it serves as a model system for studying pollinator-based reproductive isolation. It was formerly known as Mimulus lewisii.
Erythranthe lewisii is a perennial herb, with stem length ranging from 25–80 cm and individual leaves ranging from 20–70 mm. The vegetative tissue is covered with fine hairs. The flowers are medium in size, set on fairly long (30–70 mm) pedicels, and range in color from pale pink (generally found in the Sierra Nevada populations, sometimes separated as Erythranthe erubescens G.L.Nesom) to dark magenta (more common in the Cascade Range and Rocky Mountains populations), with a central pair of carotenoid-rich yellow nectar guides covered in trichomes on the lower lobe of the corolla. Occasional populations of white-flowered individuals (which do not express anthocyanin pigments in the corolla) are known.
Erythranthe lewisii is native to western North America from Alaska to California to Colorado, where it grows in moist habitat such as streambanks, and is generally found at higher elevations in montane areas. It overlaps with its sister species, Erythranthe cardinalis, in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California.
Erythranthe lewisii is pollinated by bees (primarily Bombus and Osmia), which feed off of its nectar and transfer its pollen. Although it is fully interfertile with its sister species, E. cardinalis, the two do not interbreed in the wild, a difference ascribed primarily to pollinator differences (E. cardinalis is pollinated by hummingbirds) in areas of overlap. It was previously reported that evidence strongly linking pollination preference to color differences between the species, but this has been disproven.
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- Calphotos: White Mimulus lewisii from Alpine Co., CA
- Wildflower Bloom for Columbia & Great Basins of Central and Eastern Oregon 1995-2000: White Mimulus lewisii from eastern Oregon
- Liberterre: Evolutions de Mimulus lewisii à Crater Lake dans l'Oregon (in French)
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