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Mimulus moschatus

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Phrymaceae (Monkeyflower)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
90 centimetres tall
Gardens, riversides, swamps, waterside, woodland.

Yellow, 5 petals
Yellow tubular flowers, borne on long stalks in the leaf axils. Flowers measure between 1 and 2cm across. Similar to Monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus) but with paler yellow flowers and the flowers are without the red spots.
A 2-sectioned, cylindrical capsule.
A hairy perennial plant with very short stalked, oval, pale green leaves. The leaves are up to 6cm long. They are arranged in opposite pairs along the branches.
Other Names:
Common Musk, Eyebright, Musk Moneyflower, Musk Plant, Muskflower.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Mimulus moschatus, also known as Muskflower or Musk plant, is a perennial herb that is native to western North America. It is a member of the Phrymaceae family and can grow up to 2-3 feet tall. It has small, pink or yellow flowers that bloom in the late spring and early summer. The leaves are green and lance-shaped, and the plant has a tall, densely branched stem. Mimulus moschatus is not considered an invasive weed, it is commonly found in moist, shady places, and along streams. It is not commonly used in traditional medicine or as a culinary herb, but it's grown as an ornamental plant for its showy flowers and attractive form. The species name, "moschatus" means musky, referring to the fragrant scent of the plant.


When one hears the name "Musk," the first thought that comes to mind is probably the famous entrepreneur Elon Musk. However, there is another musk that deserves attention: Mimulus moschatus, also known as muskflower or musk-mallow. This plant may not be as well-known as Elon Musk, but it has a fascinating history and a unique set of qualities.

Mimulus moschatus is a small, herbaceous plant native to North America, where it grows in damp areas such as streambanks and meadows. It has a distinctive musky scent, which is why it is often referred to as muskflower. The plant produces small, pale pink or white flowers that bloom in the summer, and it is a popular ornamental plant in gardens.

However, Mimulus moschatus has more than just aesthetic value. The plant has a long history of use in traditional medicine. Native American tribes used it to treat a variety of ailments, including coughs, colds, and sore throats. The plant was also used as a sedative and a pain reliever. Today, Mimulus moschatus is still used in herbal medicine for similar purposes.

But perhaps the most interesting use of Mimulus moschatus is in the fragrance industry. The plant's musky scent is highly prized in perfumes and colognes. In fact, the scent is so desirable that it has been artificially recreated in laboratories to use in fragrances when the plant is not available.

So what does Mimulus moschatus have to do with Elon Musk? Well, aside from sharing a name, there is actually a connection. Musk, the entrepreneur, has long been interested in space travel and has founded several companies, including SpaceX, with the goal of making space exploration more accessible. Mimulus moschatus has also been linked to space travel in a way. In 1971, a group of astronauts took seeds of the plant with them on the Apollo 14 mission to the moon. The seeds were then brought back to Earth and later germinated, making Mimulus moschatus the first plant to be grown from seed that had been to the moon and back.

Mimulus moschatus is also an important plant for pollinators. Its flowers are visited by a variety of bees and butterflies, which help to transfer pollen between plants and ensure their reproduction. This makes it an important part of many ecosystems.

Furthermore, Mimulus moschatus has also been studied for its potential in phytoremediation, which is the use of plants to remove pollutants from the environment. The plant has been found to be effective in removing heavy metals from contaminated soils, making it a potential tool in environmental cleanup efforts.

In addition, Mimulus moschatus is also known for its adaptability. It can grow in a variety of soil types and can tolerate both wet and dry conditions. This makes it a useful plant for landscaping and gardening in areas with challenging growing conditions.

Another interesting aspect of Mimulus moschatus is its classification as an invasive species in some areas. While it is native to North America, it has been introduced to other parts of the world, where it can grow aggressively and outcompete native plant species. This highlights the importance of responsible plant management and the potential consequences of introducing non-native species to new environments.

In terms of its cultivation, Mimulus moschatus is relatively easy to grow from seed and can be propagated through cuttings. It prefers partial shade and moist, well-draining soil. It can be grown in pots or containers and is often used as a ground cover or in rock gardens.

Overall, Mimulus moschatus is a plant with many interesting characteristics and potential uses. From its medicinal properties to its fragrance and potential in environmental remediation, it is a versatile plant with a rich history and many possible applications. Whether grown in a garden or studied for its scientific properties, Mimulus moschatus is sure to continue fascinating and inspiring people for years to come.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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