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For the crab genus, see Epialtinae.
"Monkey-flower" redirects here. The term is also used for Phyllocarpus septentrionalis, Linaria vulgaris, and other snapdragon-like Lamiales.
Mimulus lewisii p1080904.jpg
Mimulus lewisii
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Phrymaceae
Genus: Mimulus

Presently some 150, but see text.


See text

Mimulus /ˈmɪmjuːləs/[1] is a diverse plant genus, the monkey-flowers and musk-flowers. The about 150 species are currently placed in the family Phrymaceae. The genus had traditionally been placed in Scrophulariaceae. The removal of Mimulus from that family has been supported by studies of chloroplast DNA first published in the mid-1990s.[citation needed] Multiple studies of chloroplast DNA and two regions of nuclear rDNA[2] suggest that the genera Phryma, Berendtiella, Hemichaena, Leucocarpus, Microcarpeae, Peplidium, Glossostigma, and Elacholoma are all derived from within Mimulus and would need to be rearranged.

It is recognized that there are two large groups of Mimulus species, with the largest group of species in western North America, and a second group with center of diversity in Australia. A few species also extend into eastern North America, eastern Asia and southern Africa. This enlarged group is a part of the newly redefined Phrymaceae.


Most of the species are annuals or herbaceous perennials, but a few species are subshrubs with woody stems; these are treated in the section Diplacus. Diplacus is clearly derived from within Mimulus s.l. and was not usually considered to be generically distinct.[citation needed] Hence, it would not be treated as a genus separate from Mimulus now, though it might become a section of a yet-to-be defined split from Mimulus s.str..[citation needed] A large number of the species grow in moist to wet soils with some growing even in shallow water.[citation needed] Some species produce copious amounts of aromatic compounds, giving them a musky odor (hence "musk-flowers").[citation needed]

Mimulus are called monkey-flowers because some species have flowers shaped like a monkey's face.[3] The generic name, Latin mimus meaning "mimic actor", from the Greek mimos meaning "imitator" also references this. The stem of a few species of Mimulus can be either smooth or hairy, and this trait is determined by a simple allelic difference.[verification needed] At least M. lewisii is known to possess "flypaper-type" traps and is apparently protocarnivorous, supplementing its nutrients with small insects.[citation needed]

Uses and ecology[edit]

Mimulus cv. 'Jack'

In horticulture, several species, cultivars and hybrids are used. Most important are those derived from M. bigelovii stock, a species with large, spreading flowers. One of the standard Bach flower remedies is derived from Mimulus[verification needed]; some species are also used in folk medicine.

Several taxa, particularly the yellow monkey-flowers (M. guttatus and relatives) and the section Erythranthe (including M. lewisii, M. cardinalis, and M. parishii) are model organisms for research in ecology, evolution, genetics and genomics.[4] The genome sequence of Mimulus guttatus was released in late spring, 2007.

Mimulus is used as food by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, such as the Mouse Moth (Amphipyra tragopoginis) as a main part of their diet.[citation needed] For a list of Mimulus pathogens, see List of mimulus, monkey-flower diseases.

Edibility and medicinal uses[edit]

Mimulus species tend to concentrate sodium chloride and other salts absorbed from the soils in which they grow in their leaves and stem tissues. Native Americans and early travelers in the American West used this plant as a salt substitute to flavor wild game. The entire plant is edible, but reported to be very salty and bitter unless well cooked. The juice squeezed from the plant's foliage was used as a soothing poultice for minor burns and skin irritations.[5]

Mimulus has been listed as one of the 38 plants that are used to prepare Bach flower remedies,[6] a kind of alternative medicine promoted for its effect on health. However according to Cancer Research UK, "there is no scientific evidence to prove that flower remedies can control, cure or prevent any type of disease, including cancer".[7]

Selected species of Mimulus sensu lato[edit]

Mimulus brevipes in Southern California
Mimulus gracilis in the Pilbara region of Western Australia
Mimulus pilosus in Southern California
Mimulus rubellus in Nevada
Mimulus nanus in Yellowstone National Park


  1. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  2. ^ Beardsley, P. M.; Olmstead, R. G. (2002). "Redefining Phrymaceae: the placement of Mimulus, tribe Mimuleae, and Phryma". American Journal of Botany. 89: 1093–1102. doi:10.3732/ajb.89.7.1093. 
  3. ^ Coombes, A. J. 1985. Dictionary of Plant Names. Portland, Timber Press. page 119.
  4. ^ Wu, C. A.; Lowry, D. B.; Cooley, A. M.; Wright, K. M.; Lee, Y. W.; Willis, J. H. (June 6, 2007). "Mimulus is an emerging model system for the integration of ecological and genomic studies". Heredity. 100 (2): 220–230. doi:10.1038/sj.hdy.6801018. ISSN 0018-067X. Retrieved 2015-05-06. 
  5. ^ Tilford, G. L. Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West. ISBN 0-87842-359-1
  6. ^ D. S. Vohra (1 June 2004). Bach Flower Remedies: A Comprehensive Study. B. Jain Publishers. p. 3. ISBN 978-81-7021-271-3. Retrieved 2 September 2013. 
  7. ^ "Flower remedies". Cancer Research UK. Retrieved September 2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  8. ^ Vallejo-Marin (2012). "Mimulus peregrinus" (Phrymaceae): A new British allopolyploid species. "Phytokeys" 14:1-14.
  9. ^ Vallejo-Marín, Mario; Buggs, Richard J.; Cooley, Arielle M.; Puzey, Joshua R. (2015). "Speciation by genome duplication: Repeated origins and genomic composition of the recently formed allopolyploid species Mimulus peregrinus". Evolution. 69: 1487–1500. doi:10.1111/evo.12678. Retrieved 2015-05-10. 
  10. ^ Benedict, B. G.; et al. (2012). "Mimulus sookensis (Phrymaceae), a new allotetraploid species derived from Mimulus guttatus and Mimulus nasutus". Madroño. 59 (1): 29–43. doi:10.3120/0024-9637-59.1.29. 

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