Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Names That Make Kids Laugh - Square-stemmed Monkeyflower

Some species seem to have been named with the idea of making kids (and adults) laugh.  Sometimes the names make no sense; other times they do.  American Bladdernut - makes sense.  Squirrel Corn - makes sense if you know what to look for for.  Chicken Mushroom - doesn't really make sense.

Square-Stemmed Monkeyflower makes sense, if you have an imagination.

The Square-stemmed Monkeyflower (Mimulus ringens) is a summer wildflower that is native to North America.  It primarily is found in states and Canadian provinces east of the Rocky Mountains.  It grows in wetland habitats such as swamps, wet meadows, shorelines, and stream banks.  It has violet blue flowers that bloom between June and September.  The plant can grow between 1 and 3 foot tall.

How did this plant get its name?

The Square-stemmed Monkeyflower really has square stems!  If you cut one of the plant's stems you will see that its cross-section is a perfect square.  Plants with square stems are actually very common.  A square is a very stable shape and many plants take advantage of this shape.  For example, many plants in the Mint family (Lamiaceae) have square stems.

Why Monkeyflower?

If you look at the flower from the right angle it is supposed to resemble the face of a monkey.  It helps if you have a good imagination.  Kids are usually better at seeing this than adults.

Can you see the monkey's face?

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