In this short documentary film, we join experts and volunteers as they work to save Michigan’s only endemic flower. The Federally-listed endangered species, Michigan Monkey Flower (Mimulus michiganesis) is found in only 23 locations on earth, including Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Northwest Lower Michigan – most of them hidden where wetlands are fed by groundwater seeps and springs
While this beautiful little yellow flower is extremely rare, it is relatively easy to see these days … thanks in part to botanist and activist, Jody Marquis. Now retired, Marquis and colleagues helped to re-establish Michigan Monkey Flower on the Shores of Glen Lake about 20 years ago. Over the years, Lori Lyman and other shoreland owners have joined this effort to protect and foster Michigan Monkey Flower along with the Glen Lake Association and the Leelanau County Parks and Recreation Commission.
In this documentary, we learn just how particular this small flowering plant is from Phyllis Higman, Lead Botanist for the Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI). Michigan Monkey Flower has very specific water quality, acidity, and temperature requirements.
As described by Horticulturalist Laurel Voran, patches of these flowers can also be overrun by invasive plants, such as Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis scorpioides) and Watercress (Nasturtium officianale). If we want Michigan Monkey Flower to survive she says, these patches need regular attention.
Field Biologist, Liana May helps to describe another challenge to the survival of Michigan Monkey Flower. Only one of the 23 populations is known to be capable of producing viable seeds. All the other populations reproduce through vegetative propagation, essentially cloning themselves. That means, genetic diversity is extremely limited. Found in the Maple River watershed on private property, this small patch of seed-bearing monkey flower may be the most important population anywhere in the world.
In an attempt to assure the continuation of the Maple River population, the Little Traverse Conservancy (LTC) joined with MNFI to train and equip volunteer flower “gardeners” last August for a work-bee to remove competitive invasive plants. As described by Derek Shiels, LTC’s Director of Stewardship, Maple River’s monkey flower will continue to need volunteer help for years to come.
Watch this short documentary to learn more about experimental efforts led by Liana May and backed by MNFI and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to transplant small “plugs” of the seed-bearing Maple River populations to new locations, including near the Maple River (University of Michigan Biological Station property) and the Platte River (state-owned land).