Monkey flower varies widely in form, some growing as a mat-forming mass scarcely 10 cm high, while others rise tall on substantial stems to 80 cm high. Numerous oppositely arranged oval leaves are spaced along the stems. They range up to 10 cm long and have a generally yellowish tinge and bear large irregular teeth along the margin. Flowers form clusters at the tops of stems, appearing to nearly smother the plant. Each is up to 4 cm long. The flower consists of a bright yellow funnel of five fused petals, marked with bright maroon spots in the throat.
The throat is very hairy, especially on the lower lip. Flowering time ranges widely. On Vancouver Island, flower blooms show up on rocky sites as early as April. The natural range of the yellow monkeyflower is remarkably wide.
You can encounter it throughout B.C. from sea level to mid-elevations. Natural habitats tend to be moist for at least part of the year. On bedrock surfaces, typical situations include wet ledges and seeping rock faces as well as crevices.
Other habitats include gravel bars, streamsides, springs, and damp clearings. On the south Island, plants bloom in local ditches after the water has dried out. Monkey flowers were apparently not used much by B.C. First Peoples. Although in the western U.S., First peoples ate fresh or boiled leaves, drank tea for stomach aches and made a poultice for wounds.