On a mossy lake shore, a small yellow flower gapes its red-spotted tongue towards passing insects. It stands only a few inches tall, balancing a single bloom on a thread-thin, leafless stalk. A rosette of green leaves surrounds it at the base. This is primrose monkeyflower (Mimulus primuloides), which only likes to grow above 2,000 feet in elevation.
At first glance, this little yellow monkeyflowers of the alpine country look a lot like those of the lowlands–but look close! Even though we are used to seeing Mimulus guttatis around here, there are many other species with bright yellow blossoms that are dotted with red… But this is the only one (that I know of) to bear a single flower on a leafless stem.