FORGETMENOT MOUSEEAR SCORPION GRASS SNAKE GRASS LOVE ME
(Myosotis Palustris) Borage family
Flowers - Pure blue, pinkish, or white, with yellow eye; flat,
5-lobed, borne in many-flowered, long, often 1-sided racemes.
Calyx 5-cleft; the lobes narrow, spreading, erect, and open in
fruit; 5 stamens inserted on corolla tube; style threadlike;
Stem: Low, branching, leafy, slender, hairy,
partially reclining. Leaves: (Myosotis = mouse-ear) oblong,
alternate, seated on stem, hairy. Fruit: Nutlets, angled and
keeled on inner side.
Preferred Habitat - Escaped from gardens to brooksides, marshes,
and low meadows.
Flowering Season - May-July.
Distribution - Native of Europe and Asia, now rapidly spreading
from Nova Scotia southward to New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and
How rare a color blue must have been originally among our flora
is evident from the majority of blue and purple flowers that,
although now abundant here and so perfectly at home, are really
quite recent immigrants from Europe and Asia. But our dryer,
hotter climate never brings to the perfection attained in England
"The sweet forget-me-nots
That grow for happy lovers."
Tennyson thus ignores the melancholy association of the flower in
the popular legend which tells how a lover, when trying to gather
some of these blossoms for his sweetheart, fell into a deep pool,
and threw a bunch on the bank, calling out, as he sank forever
from her sight, "Forget me not." Another dismal myth sends its
hero forth seeking hidden treasure caves in a mountain, under the
guidance of a fairy. He fills his pockets with gold, but not
heeding the fairy's warning to "forget not the best" - i.e., the
myosotis - he is crushed by the closing together of the mountain.
Happiest of all is the folk-tale of the Persians; as told by
their poet Shiraz: "It was in the golden morning of the early
world, when an angel sat weeping outside the closed gates of
Paradise. He had fallen from his high estate through loving a
daughter of earth, nor was he permitted to enter again until she
whom he loved had planted the flowers of the forget-me-not in
every corner of the world. He returned to earth and assisted her,
and together they went hand in hand. When their task was ended,
they entered Paradise together, for the fair woman, without
tasting the bitterness of death, became immortal like the angel
whose love her beauty had won when she sat by the river twining
forget-me-nots in her hair."
It was the golden ring around the forget-me-not's center that
first led Sprengel to believe the conspicuous markings at the
entrance of many flowers served as pathfinders to insects. This
golden circle also shelters the nectar from rain, and indicates
to the fly or bee just where it must probe between stigma and
anthers to touch them with opposite sides of its tongue. Since it
may probe from any point of the circle, it is quite likely that
the side of the tongue that touched a pollen-laden anther in one
flower will touch the stigma in the next one visited, and so
cross-fertilize it. But forget-me-nots are not wholly dependent
on insects. When these fail, a fully mature flower is still able
to set fertile seed by shedding its own pollen directly on the
The SMALLER FORGET-ME-NOT (M. laxa), formerly accounted a mere
variety of palustris, but now defined as a distinct species, is a
native, and therefore may serve to show how its European relative
here will deteriorate in the dryer atmosphere of the New World.
Its tiny turquoise flowers, borne on long stems from a very loose
raceme, gleam above wet, muddy places from Newfoundland and
Eastern Canada to Virginia and Tennessee.
Even smaller still are the blue or white flowers of the FIELD
FORGET-ME-NOT, SCORPION GRASS, or MOUSE-EAR (M. arvenis), whose
stems and leaves are covered with bristly hairs. It blooms from
August to July in dry places, even on hillsides, an unusual
locality in which to find a member of this moisture-loving clan.
All the flowers remain long in bloom, continually forming new
buds on a lengthening stem, and leaving behind little empty green
VIPER'S BUGLOSS; BLUE-WEED; VIPER'S HERB or GRASS; SNAKE-FLOWER;
Previous: WILD BLUE PHLOX
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