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You might be noticing an orange tint to the hills in Orange County these days.  Maybe you, too, have Sticky Monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus) gracing your nearby hills.

Monkeyflower hill with Lemonadeberry and coastal sage scrub habitatIn San Juan Capistrano, on May 19, 2011, a hike starting on the Cerro Rebal trail brought us up close and personal with some great displays of monkeyflower in coastal sage scrub habitat.  In my experience it is this profuse only in good rain years and when we get rain fairly late in the season.

Some observers might look up into the hills and think mustard is blooming, but monkeyflowers are not the sulphur yellow color of mustard, but have the overall effect of a  light apricot/melon color.  The individual bushes can vary in flower color quite a bit from a reddish brick all the way to a very pale yellow/almost white.

When Archibald Menzies was born at Stix House, near Aberfeldy, in Perthshire, Scotland, in 1754, his family would have had good reason to expect him to pursue a career involving plants.  If the Dictionary of Canadian Biography can be believed, his four brothers were gardeners, and in his youth Archibald himself worked as a gardener for the clan chief on the grounds of Castle Menzies in the village of Weem.  But they might not necessarily have predicted that his name would appear so many times in the Linnaean nomenclature of plants—20 times, in fact, as part of the scientific names of California native plants alone. 

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