Red Monadella

The red monardella is a species of flowering plant in the mint family known by its scientific name monardella macrantha. It is native to coastal mountain ranges of southern California and Baja California, where it grows in several habitat types, including chaparralwoodlands, and forest.

A perennial, or evergreen, herb forming a low tuft of slender stems lined with thick, shiny green leaves variable in size from 1⁄4 to 11⁄2 inches long and from 1⁄8 to 1⁄2 inch wide, its larger leaves have long petioles, nearly half the length of the leaf. The red monardella has as an inflorescence a head of several tubular flowers blooming in a cup of red-tinged green bracts up to one and three-fifths inch wide. The clustered flowers are bright red to yellowish in color, sometimes exceeding one and three-fifths inch in length with narrow lobed mouths. This plant is lax and loosely matting, as well as rhizomatous. It will grow to around four inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide. A single inflorescence resembles an old-fashioned shaving brush. There are up to twenty-five erect, narrow, tubular, red-orange flowers tightly bunched together in each flower head. The stamens and stigma are exerted about 1⁄8 inch beyond the five short corolla lobes. Showy red purple bracts, up to 1⁄4 inch wide and 1⁄2 inch long, subtend each inflorescence. Each flower has a showy, tubular, red purple calyx, 7⁄8 inch long. The shiny mid-green stems and leaves are often suffused a pale red purple. Unlike most monardellas, the leaves of M. macrantha ssp. macrantha  are not pleasantly aromatic, though they do have an unusual light scent that is difficult to classify.

The red monardella proves out as one of the most colorful of California’s native perennials.

Hummingbirds are strongly attracted to the rich nectar of the red orange tubular flowers. Unlike many California native plants, Monardella macrantha ssp. macrantha  flowers during the summer months, from June through August.

In addition to occurring naturally, this plant is favored by people looking to enhance their yards and gardens with color. Monardella macrantha is cultivated by specialty plant nurseries and available as an ornamental plant for native plantdrought tolerantnatural landscape, and habitat gardens; and for ecological restoration projects.

Ideal growing conditions for the monardella exist in bright partial shade in well-drained soil. In low-elevation gardens, it will benefit from an occasional summer watering, once it has become established. If kept too dry through the summer, it will not survive. Cold hardiness is not a problem for this plant. It can be grown reliably in Sunsetzones. It is generally not a long-lived plant, with a life span of about four years in open gardens when it is cultivated in domestic settings. Plants grown in containers live much longer. In containers, it will send out runners that may emerge from the drainage holes. Additional plants can easily be propagated either by division or from cuttings of vegetative shoots. Plants may need protection from rabbits, ground squirrels, or other rodents.

In nature, Monardella macrantha ssp. macrantha is found between 2,000 and 6,500 feet elevation from the Santa Lucia Mountains of California south to the Sierra San Pedro Martir of Baja California, Mexico. Throughout its range, this monardella is generally found in cooler, partially shaded environments that may receive moisture during the summer monsoon season, when occasional storms move into Southern California from Mexico.

The red monardella is but one of the 44 taxa of Monardella native to California. Within its range, it will be found in chaparral, woodland, and forest communities, most reliably in association with a melic grass (Melica imperfecta); other herbaceous plants with which it associates naturally are a California fescue. Native shrubs in its company include coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica), mountain pink currant (Ribesnevadense), and snowberry (Symphoricarpos rotundifolius var. parishii); and all will be found with trees such as white fir (Abies concolor), Coulter, Jeffrey, and sugar pines (Pinus coulteriP. jeffreyi, and P. lambertiana), bigcone Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga macrocarpa), and both coast and canyon live oaks (Quercus agrifolia and Q. chrysolepis).

From Wikipedia and

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