The Plant Sleuths

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Published on: Dec. 2, 1997

Last revision: Oct. 27, 2010

and on wet ledges along bluffs. A yellow flower grows from each leaf axil (where the leaf is attached to the stem). The leaves are nearly round and opposite. The lower part of the smooth stem lies on the ground. Plants may be 1 to 20 inches in height.

Even when it was known in the state, roundleaf monkey flower was rarely seen. The genus name comes from the Latin word mimus, a mimic or mime, because flowers of some species appear to have grinning faces.

Last seen: 1933, in shallow running water at a spring in Lawrence County; seen earlier in Barry, Greene and Ste. Genevieve counties

Family: Scrophulariaceae (figwort family)

Flowering dates: May to October

Hazards for rare plants

The native garden-Many gardeners treasure a stand of purple coneflowers, a ruby shower of columbine or other native plants. Such a garden brings the wild close to home and shows appreciation for Missouri's natural heritage.

How do you bring wild plants into your garden? Even if you know where common plants grow naturally and you have a landowner's permission to dig them, it's to your advantage-and nature's-to obtain plants or seeds from native plant nurseries.

That's because it's often difficult to extricate the complete root system of a perennial in the wild, especially in rocky soil, but nursery plants, grown in pots, have intact root systems and a better chance of surviving.

With seed, be patient. It may take a couple of years for some species to germinate. Once you have flowers, you can collect seed and expand your plantings. Seeds also make much-appreciated gifts.

By refraining from digging up flowers in the wild, you help preserve the natural landscape and the place each plant holds in an ecosystem. And there could be penalties for removing some plants. State law prohibits the transportation of rare and endangered plants or any parts of them, and since 1993, it has been illegal to dig up or remove any roadside plant from the right-of-way of state or county highways or roadways in Missouri.

Herbicides-Avoid or minimize the use of herbicides near such plants. If you must use a herbicide, choose one specific as possible for the problem plant you wish to eliminate.

Non-native species-Don't introduce aggressive, spreading, non-native species such as kudzu, crown vetch and Japanese honeysuckle. They can take over a native plant's habitat.

Missouri's endangered plants

There are many plants on the edge of vanishing. The Conservation Department's term "endangered" means a plant's survival in Missouri is in immediate jeopardy. It applies to French's shooting star, known only at one site, and also to the cranefly orchid, red raspberry, dotted monarda and many others.

The survival of endangered plants often depends on the willingness of humans to be observant and to coexist without doing harm.

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