The water seep supports a lush association of plants, unusual in the dry, desert country. M. eastwoodiae is the uppermost stratum of these plants, growing directly out of the rock wall at the rear of the cave. It clings to the rock face by the roots of horizontal stolons. The chief plants that grow below M. eastwoodiae in the loose, moist soil are Star Solomon plume (Smilacina stellata), Helleborine Orchid (Epitactis gigantea)
, and Small-flowered Columbine (Aquilegia micrantha)
. M. eastwoodiae’s large (l½” to 2½” long) flower is bright red. It resembles a Penstemon flower in that it is tubular and two-lipped; but unlike Penstemon, it has four stamens rather than five. M. eastwoodiae’s style is longer than its stamens, and the stigma at the tip of the style is two-lobed. The plant’s leaves are ovate to obovate, toothed, and opposite on the stem.
Editor’s note: At the time that this article was written Mimulus eastwoodiae was in the Figwort Family (Scrophulariaceae). It has since been moved into the Lopseed family (Phyrmaceae) and its genus changed from Mimulus to Erythranthe. It is classified as a critically imperiled (S1) species in Colorado.