Mimulus cardinalis

Common Name: scarlet monkey flower 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Phrymaceae
Native Range: Mexico, western United States
Zone: 7 to 10
Height: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to October
Bloom Description: Scarlet
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Water Plant, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Hummingbirds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Erosion, Wet Soil


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 7-10 (Zone 6 if sited in a protected location). Best grown in organically rich, moist to wet soils in part shade. Thrives in sun dappled shade. Tolerates full sun, but soils must not be allowed to dry out. Plants thrive in locations where roots will remain consistently moist to wet. Tolerates occasional flooding. Tolerates standing water. Naturalizes in optimum growing conditions by creeping rhizomes and self-seeding. Where not winter hardy, plants may remain in the garden from year to year by self-seeding. Plants may acquire a bedraggled appearance near the end of a long hot summer.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Mimulus cardinalis, commonly called scarlet monkey flower, is a creeping, herbaceous evergreen perennial of the figwort family that typically grows to 1-3’ tall and as wide on upright, branched, sticky-hairy, yellowish-green flowering stems clad with opposite, sessile, sharp-toothed, downy, obovate, pale green leaves (to 4 1/2” long). Solitary, tubular, scarlet (rarely yellow) flowers (1-2” long) resembling snap-dragons bloom from the leaf axils from June/July to October. Each flower has protruding stamens, bearded anthers and a two-lipped corolla. Each corolla has a 2-lobed, sometimes-reflexed, upper lip and a 3-lobed lower lip featuring three spreading, throat-exposing lobes. This monkey flower is native to moist to wet places including streamsides, pond margins, springs, seepages and under water-dripping cliffs, primarily in certain mountainous areas of Western North America from Washington south through Oregon, California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico into northern Mexico.

Hummingbirds regularly feed on the flowers of this plant. Due to the somewhat unusual structure of the flowers, pollen from the anthers typically sticks to the heads of feeding hummingbirds who in turn transfer that pollen from anthers to stigmas in the course of feeding.

Genus name comes from the Latin diminutive of mimus meaning a mimic as they look like a monkey face.

Specific epithet means scarlet or cardinal red.

Common name suggests that each scarlet flower resembles the face of a smiling monkey.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Where winter hardy, this monkey flower is best naturalized in moist to wet soils in water gardens, bog gardens, wet meadows, water margins, or low spots. Excellent edging plant for banks of streams or ponds. Circle the base of a birdbath. May be grown in moist soils in borders as long as soils do not dry out. Group near watersides. Where not winter hardy, plants may be grown in patio containers.