The discovery of a new, rare species of monkey flower by Professor Jason Sexton provides clues as to how new species are born.
Sexton, who researches the monkey flowers that grow wild throughout California, and are especially prolific in the Sierra Nevada, conducted this work with researchers Kathleen G. Ferris and John H. Willis, both from Duke University.
They found what they at first assumed to be a variant of the cut-leafed species of monkey flower in the Butte-Plumas counties area, growing on Sierra granite outcroppings. The flowers begin their short lives sprouting among wet mosses on rocky slopes. But as the weather warms and the water dries up, the environment becomes increasingly harsh and the flowers wither like the moss.