Myosotis (pronounced /ˌmaɪ.əˈsoʊtɪs/; from the Greek: "mouse's ear", after the leaf) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Boraginaceae that are commonly called Forget-me-nots. Its common name was calqued from the French, "ne m'oubliez pas" and first used in English in c.1532. Similar names and variations are found in many languages.
There are approximately fifty species in the genus, with much variation. Most have small (1 cm diameter or less) flat, 5-lobed blue, pink or white flowers with yellow centers, growing on scorpioid cymes. They bloom in spring. Leaves are alternate. Popular in gardens, Forget-me-nots prefer moist habitats and where they are not native, they have escaped to wetlands and riverbanks. They can tolerate partial sun and shade.
Forget-me-nots may be annual or perennial plants. Their root systems are generally diffuse. Their seeds are found in small, tulip-shaped pods along the stem to the flower. The pods attach to clothing when brushed against and eventually fall off, leaving the small seed within the pod to germinate elsewhere. Seeds can be collected by putting a piece of paper under the stems and shaking them. The seed pods and some seeds will fall out.
They are widely distributed. Most Myosotis species are indigenous to New Zealand, though one or two European species, especially the Wood Forget-me-not, Myosotis sylvatica have been introduced into most of the temperate regions of Europe, Asia and America. Myosotis scorpioides is also known as scorpion grass due to the spiraling curve of its inflorescence. Myosotis alpestris is the state flower of Alaska.
Folklore and legend
The Christ Child was sitting on Mary's lap one day and said that he wished that future generations could see her eyes. He touched her eyes and then waved his hand over the ground and blue forget-me-nots appeared, hence the name forget-me-not.
In 15th-century Germany, it was supposed that the wearers of the flower would not be forgotten by their lovers. Legend has it that in medieval times, a knight and his lady were walking along the side of a river. He picked a posy of flowers, but because of the weight of his armour he fell into the river. As he was drowning he threw the posy to his loved one and shouted "Forget-me-not." It was often worn by ladies as a sign of faithfulness and enduring love.
Prior to becoming the tenth province of Canada in 1949, Newfoundland (then a separate British Dominion) used the Forget-me-not as a symbol of remembrance of that nation's war dead. This practice is still in limited use today, though Newfoundlanders have adopted the Flanders Poppy as well.
Henry David Thoreau wrote, "The mouse-ear forget-me-not, Myosotis laxa, has now extended its racemes very much, and hangs over the edge of the brook. It is one of the most interesting minute flowers. It is the more beautiful for being small and unpretending; even flowers must be modest."
- Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of Heaven,
- Blossom the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.
In his 1947 long poem "Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction," Wallace Stevens mentions the forget-me-not, using its scientific Greek-derived name:
- ...It observes the effortless weather turning blue
- And sees the myosotis on its bush."
Keith Douglas, 1920–1944, wrote his poem "Vergissmeinnicht" (Forget-me-not) about a dead German soldier in World War II whose body is found by the poet with a photograph of his girl with her words written "Steffi. Vergissmeinnicht" but it's not believed by some people.
- Myosotis alpestris - Alpine Forget-me-not
- Myosotis arvensis - Field Forget-me-not
- Myosotis asiatica - Asiatic Forget-me-not
- Myosotis azorica - Azores Forget-me-not
- Myosotis caespitosa - Tufted Forget-me-not
- Myosotis decumbens
- Myosotis discolor - Changing Forget-me-not
- Myosotis latifolia - Broadleaf Forget-me-not
- Myosotis laxa - Tufted Forget-me-not, Bay Forget-me-not
- Myosotis maritima - Maritime Forget-me-not, endemic to the archipelago of the Azores
- Myosotis nemorosa
- Myosotis ramosissima
- Myosotis scorpioides - True Forget-me-not
- Myosotis secunda - Creeping Forget-me-not
- Myosotis sicula - Jersey Forget-me-not
- Myosotis stricta
- Myosotis sylvatica - Wood Forget-me-not
- Myosotis verna - Spring Forget-me-not
- Myosotis venosa
- Myosotis forsteri
Chatham Islands Forget-me-not
- ^ "Myosotis". Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2nd ed. 1989.
- ^ a b c Sanders, Jack. The Secrets of Wildflowers: A Delightful Feast of Little-Known Facts, Folklore, and History. Globe Pequot, 2003. ISBN 1585746681. ISBN 978-1585746682.
- ^ Virtual-loi.co.uk
- ^ Thoreau, Henry David; Blake, Harrison Gray Otis; Emerson, Ralph Waldo; Sanborn, Franklin Benjamin (1884), The Writings of Henry David Thoreau (vol 6), p. 109, http://books.google.com/?id=_14dAAAAIAAJ
- ^ Secretaria Regional do Ambiente e do Mar (2008), Plantas Endémicas dos Açores: Guia da Ilha do Faial, p.8; Flowering between April and June, the maritima is herbaceous from drought coastal zone, but below 150 meters altitudes.
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