Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

This native wildflower is a winter annual or biennial about ½–1½' tall that is unbranched or branches occasionally. The stems are light green, terete or angular, and covered with long white hairs. The alternate leaves are ½–2" long and about one-third as wide; they are light green, oblong or oblanceolate, smooth and ciliate along the margins, and usually hairy on both the upper and lower surfaces. Each leaf has a prominent central vein. The leaves are mostly sessile against their stems; the lowest leaves taper to petiole-like bases. The central stem and upper lateral stems (if present) terminate in elongated racemes of small white flowers about 2-8" long. Each raceme has about 8-24 flowers on a hairy stalk; there are no bracts alongside the flowers. The flowers bloom toward the apex of each raceme, where it is typically curled like a scorpion's tail; the hairy ovoid fruits develop below. Each flower is 1/8" across, consisting of a white corolla with 5 rounded lobes, a hairy calyx with 5 lanceolate sepals, 5 stamens (inconspicuous), and a pistil. Sometimes the hairs of the calyx are hooked at their tips. The blooming period occurs from mid-spring to early summer and lasts about 2 months. The racemes become longer as their dry fruits (seed capsules) develop; these fruits have pedicels that are more or less erect. At this stage of development, the pedicels are a little shorter than their fruits. Each fruit contains 4 seeds. The root system consists of a taproot and secondary fibrous roots. This wildflower reproduces by reseeding itself.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Comments

This wildflower has small flowers and is fairly easy to overlook. In spite of its common name, Spring Scorpion Grass is a member of the Borage family, rather than the Grass family (Poaceae). This species is very similar to Myosotis macrosperma (Big-Seeded Scorpion Grass); sometimes they are considered different varieties of the same species. According to Mohlenbrock (2002), Spring Scorpion Grass has fruits with more erect pedicels and smaller seeds than Big-Fruited Scorpion Grass; in Illinois, the latter is restricted to a few southern counties. Another similar species is Buglossoides arvense (Corn Gromwell). Corn Gromwell has leafy bracts alongside its flowers, while the flowers of Spring Scorpion Grass (and other Myosotis spp.) lack such bracts. There are also several Myosotis spp. (Forget-Me-Not species) from Europe that occasionally escape from cultivation. These introduced species have blue flowers. Another common name of Myosotis verna is White Forget-Me-Not.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Spring Scorpion Grass is occasional to locally common in the southern half of Illinois, while in the northern half of the state it is uncommon or absent (see Distribution Map). Habitats include upland open woodlands, barren wooded slopes, areas along woodland paths, sandy savannas, sand prairies, fields, roadside embankments, and areas along railroads. This little wildflower occurs in barren areas where there is little ground vegetation – frequently where there is some history of disturbance. Occasionally, it is found in damp areas.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Myosotis verna Nutt.:
Argentina (South America)
Canada (North America)
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: Maine to Michigan and NE Wyoming, south to Georgia and Texas and from southern British Columbia to Oregon and Idaho.

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Physical Description

Diagnostic Description

The smooth nutlets separate Myosotis from other genera in this family. The white flowers with hooked hairs on the calyx separate this species from the other annual species in the genus.

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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Spring Scorpion Grass is occasional to locally common in the southern half of Illinois, while in the northern half of the state it is uncommon or absent (see Distribution Map). Habitats include upland open woodlands, barren wooded slopes, areas along woodland paths, sandy savannas, sand prairies, fields, roadside embankments, and areas along railroads. This little wildflower occurs in barren areas where there is little ground vegetation – frequently where there is some history of disturbance. Occasionally, it is found in damp areas.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Associations

Flower-Visiting Insects of Spring Scorpion Grass in Illinois

Myosotis verna (Spring Scorpion Grass)
(Insects suck nectar; observations are from Robertson)

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae):Augochlorella striata

Butterflies
Pieridae: Pontia protodice

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Faunal Associations

Small bees and small butterflies visit the flowers for nectar. Robertson (1929) observed only two floral visitors
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Myosotis verna

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Myosotis verna

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is full sun to light shade, moist to dry conditions, and barren soil containing sand, gravel, or clay. Most growth and development occurs during the spring.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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