Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The "Forget-Me-Not" Flower

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 blue or purple 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.

Forget-me-nots are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Setaceous Hebrew Character.


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