Monday, May 29, 2006

Monkey Flowers

The “Bush Monkey Flower” or “Sticky Monkey Flower” (Diplacus aurantiacus) is a common native that is in full bloom right now in our area. It is especially beautiful this year; I’ve no idea why that is so. The color varies from an even paler orange than these in my yard to a very deep reddish-orange. According to several web sites I read, the plant gets its common name from the resemblence of the flowers to a grinning monkey’s head. Riiiiight. I suspect some botanist was smoking loco-weed when he came up with that one! The leaves really are sticky, though. The stands that are near our pine trees have their leaves covered with pine pollen…

There are a dozen or so stands of Monkey Flower in the cleared part of our yard (about 3.5 acres), every last one of them in a rocky area with partial shade. And indeed the literature avers that this is exactly the situation they like. The rest of our property (another 6+ acres) is covered in chaparral growth that is for the most part taller than the Monkey Flowers, so it’s hard to say how many more we have. However, on a walk along a trail I’ve cut that’s perhaps 1000 feet long, there are 8 stands of them — all around rocky formations, and all under the 4 to 6 foot high chaparral “canopy”. You could infer several hundred stands from that, much more common than it is in my cleared yard — which makes sense, given that it doesn’t like full sun…

Anyway, here are some photos of the stands in our yard:

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