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. A considerable number of the species have small (1 cm diameter or less) rather flat, 5-petalled blue flowers growing profusely on straggly stems, flowering in spring. Color variation is somewhat frequent within species, and white or pink forms are common. They are popular in gardens, and cultivated forms often show a mixture of colours. Forget-me-nots prefer shade.
Forget-me-nots can 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 endemic to New Zealand, though one or two European species, especially the Wood Forget-me-not, Myosotis sylvatica have been introduced in most of the temperate regions of Europe, Asia and America. Myosotis scorpioides is also known as scorpion grass.
Folklore and legend
In a German legend, God named all the plants when a tiny unnamed one cried out, "Forget-me-not, O Lord!" God replied, "That shall be your name." In another legend, the little flower cried out, "Forget-me-not!" as Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden. 
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 the 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". This is a flower connected with romance and tragic fate. 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 British commonwealth) 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."
- 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 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". 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.
- ^ Thoreau, Henry David; Emerson, Ralph Waldo (1884), The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, p. 109, http://books.google.com/books?id=_14dAAAAIAAJ
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