During our hike through the Santa Susana brush-land at Corriganville, we spotted a rare variety of the Monkey Flower, known as the Santa Susana. Although the monkey flower is not in it's natural habitat in Pasadena, it has been known to grow there quite well when planted in full shade, thus the plant is also known as Pasadena Red Monkey Flower.
The monkey fower is in the Mimulus family. The generic name in Latin, mimus means "mimic actor", from the Greek mimos meaning "imitator."
The Santa Susana monkey flower is primarily found on the hillsides of Santa Susana and has velvety deep brick red flowers, fading to touches of yellow and glossy green foliage. You can look for this delicate flower hiding in shaded areas under the protection of trees, shrubs and large rock outcroppings. When this monkey flower thrives, it is stunning in all colors and varieties and several species produce a musky aroma.
Described as a 'knock your socks off flower' by one botanist. Filled with sweet nectar, the monkey flower is the perfect flower if you are planting a 'hummer garden', this flower attracts hummingbirds. Strange however, this plant does not attract butterflies.
It's a mixed bag as to if this plant is edible. While one source states: "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."
Whereas another source states: "No medicinal properties, not edible and do not self-administer."