Monkey flower is a tall native wildflower that is fond of wet places. Like all members of the snapdragon group, monkeyflower has 2 lips that surround an open “mouth”. The upper lip has 2 frilly lobes and the lower lip has 3 lobes. If you squeeze the two lips together you can make “the monkey” laugh!
Monkey flower is uniformly violet-blue (sometimes pink or white) except for two yellow ridges that line the throat. The calyx behind the corolla is notable because it is tubular and angled.
This highly-branched plant has a square central stem and opposite leaves. The leaves are lanceolate, stemless and slightly clasping at the stem. The flowers occur two-at-a-time in the upper part of the plant; each flower has a long pedicel that emerges from the leaf axil. This arrangement of leaves and flowers gives the plant a light and airy appearance.
The plant is edible when young but it is high in salt. Pioneers and native Americans dried the plant and used it as a salt-subtitute in cooking.
Look for monkey flower near swamps, springs, ponds, and other wet places in the summer time. Because it grows up to four feet in height, the pretty blue-violet flowers are hard to miss.
Common names: Allegheny monkeyflower, Square-stemmed Monkeyflower
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At Belview Elementary in Montgomery County a marshy area that appeared to be dry during the drought years was plowed up for a vegetable garden. One of the ‘weeds’ was monkey flower. Native argeratum and some native carex came up too. I collected the plant and seeds and grew it in my yard for two years. Too bad it was not growing this year.
Enjoying your pictures and comments,
I discovered this Monkey-flower together with Common Arrowhead in the swampy area of a cow pasture near my house just yesterday. Thanks for your interesting write-up, but I could not seem to get my Monkey-flower to “laugh”!