Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)

Scrophulariaceae, or Figwort, is often referred to as the Snapdragon Family. It is well represented on the coast and throughout the Bay Area, and many of it's species have been cultivated for commercial flower production. The family contains 3 of the most well-known California native plants: Paintbrush, Monkey Flower, and Beeplant. Some of the species are semi-parasitic, especifically the Castilleja (paintbrush), which derive some of their nutrients by joining their roots to those of other plants.

Scrophulariaceae flowers have distinctly two-lipped corollas, with the upper lip divided into 2 lobes, and the lower into 3. Mostly. The calyx is usually five-lobed, but may be four-lobed. Most have 2 pairs of stamen, but there may from 2 to 5, in pairs or individual.

On Montara Mountain, Scrophulariaceae members include:

Bellardia trixago

Castilleja affinis
(Indian Paintbrush )

Castilleja densiflora
(Denseflower Owl's Clover)

Castilleja subinclusa franciscana
(Franciscan Paintbrush)

Castilleja wightii
(Wight's Paintbrush )

Mimulas aurantiacus
(Sticky Monkey Flower )

Mimulas guttatus
(Seep-spring Monkey Flower)

Scrophularia californica
(California Bee Plant)

Veronica americana
(American Brooklime)



Mimulas guttatus:
Seep-Spring Monkey Flower

Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)

Flowers: Yellow flowers in definite racemes, 5 petals, lipped, with distinct red spotted pattern on inner flower parts.

Blooms: March - September.

Leaves: Smooth, but ribbed and lightly lobed leaves in pairs along stem.

Fruit/Seeds: ??

Location: In Seep-springs, of course. Wet places along drainages, lower elevations.

Status: Native - Common.

Mimulas guttatus
640x480 JPEG - 32K

640x480 JPEG - 40K

Further description & Comment: Highly variable in size: 6 inches - 3 feet.

M. guttatus is often referred to as the "Common" Monkey Flower, but "Seep-spring" is much more descriptive of where it lives.

A healthy colony lives around the small wetland across Highway 1 from the Chart House Resturant just north of Montara.



Scrophularia californica:
California Bee Plant

Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)

Flowers: Small, dark red and tubular with longer upper petals; in clusters along top of stem.

Blooms: March - July.

Leaves: Dark green, large, triangular, coarsely toothed.

Fruit/Seeds: Small, dark, in pointed capsules on ends of flower stems.

Location: All trails and areas, damper sections.

Status: Native - Common.

Scrophularia californica
400x600 JPEG - 32K

Further description & Comment: 3 - 6 feet tall, dark red square stems. Attracts hummingbirds and ... bees!

 Deer seem to like these plants, also. Often in spring, all the Bee Plant along along a section of trail will have its new growth neatly cropped off about 6 inches above the ground.  The pictures below offer good close-ups of the flowers - a forming seed-head is shown on the plant on the left.

360x480 JPEG - 20K

480x360 JPEG - 20K

Bee Plant is very prevalant throughout Montara Mountain. Look for the distinctive leaves that begin to pop up shortly after New's Year's, forming green mats in the underbrush soon after the first series of good rains.



Veronica americana:
American Brooklime

Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)

Flowers: 4 petals, with the top one larger than the other three and 2 stamens, violet-blue to lilac-pink, 1/4 - 3/8 inch wide; along long curving flower stems from base of leaves.

Blooms: May - September.

Leaves: Lance shaped on very short but distinct petioles; fine teeth if any.

Fruit/Seeds: ??

Location: Wet areas; seeps and creek beds.

Status: Native - Common.

Veronica americana
600x400 JPEG - 24K

600x400 JPEG - 36K

Further description & Comment: This plant is very common through the summer, often showing up so often in gardens and greenhouses that many people think it's an invasive of some sort. But it's just a very prolific native that thrives wherever there is a good source of moisture.

It does have a number of european and asian relatives that are weedy problems, especially V. chamaedrys - (Germander Speedwell) and V. anagallis-aquatica - (Water Speedwell), which are known to infest native marsh and wetland areas along the coast.


Return to Pg. 2 of Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)

Continue to Solonaceae (Nightshade Family)

  Plant Listings by: Family & Latin Name Common Name Color
Top of Page Return to Scrophularia Part 1   Home