Forget-me-not
Overview
 
Myosotis is a genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 of flowering plant
Flowering plant
The flowering plants , also known as Angiospermae or Magnoliophyta, are the most diverse group of land plants. Angiosperms are seed-producing plants like the gymnosperms and can be distinguished from the gymnosperms by a series of synapomorphies...

s in the family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 Boraginaceae
Boraginaceae
Boraginaceae, the Borage or Forget-me-not family, include a variety of shrubs, trees, and herbs, totaling about 2,000 species in 146 genera found worldwide.A number of familiar plants belong to this family....

 that are commonly called Forget-me-nots. Its common name was calque
Calque
In linguistics, a calque or loan translation is a word or phrase borrowed from another language by literal, word-for-word or root-for-root translation.-Calque:...

d 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
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 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.
Encyclopedia
Myosotis is a genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 of flowering plant
Flowering plant
The flowering plants , also known as Angiospermae or Magnoliophyta, are the most diverse group of land plants. Angiosperms are seed-producing plants like the gymnosperms and can be distinguished from the gymnosperms by a series of synapomorphies...

s in the family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 Boraginaceae
Boraginaceae
Boraginaceae, the Borage or Forget-me-not family, include a variety of shrubs, trees, and herbs, totaling about 2,000 species in 146 genera found worldwide.A number of familiar plants belong to this family....

 that are commonly called Forget-me-nots. Its common name was calque
Calque
In linguistics, a calque or loan translation is a word or phrase borrowed from another language by literal, word-for-word or root-for-root translation.-Calque:...

d from the French, "ne m'oubliez pas" and first used in English in c. 1532. Similar names and variations are found in many languages.

Description

There are approximately fifty species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 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 garden
Gardening
Gardening is the practice of growing and cultivating plants. Ornamental plants are normally grown for their flowers, foliage, or overall appearance; useful plants are grown for consumption , for their dyes, or for medicinal or cosmetic use...

s, 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
Annual plant
An annual plant is a plant that usually germinates, flowers, and dies in a year or season. True annuals will only live longer than a year if they are prevented from setting seed...

 or perennial plant
Perennial plant
A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant that lives for more than two years. The term is often used to differentiate a plant from shorter lived annuals and biennials. The term is sometimes misused by commercial gardeners or horticulturalists to describe only herbaceous perennials...

s. Their root systems
Root
In vascular plants, the root is the organ of a plant that typically lies below the surface of the soil. This is not always the case, however, since a root can also be aerial or aerating . Furthermore, a stem normally occurring below ground is not exceptional either...

 are generally diffuse. Their seed
Seed
A seed is a small embryonic plant enclosed in a covering called the seed coat, usually with some stored food. It is the product of the ripened ovule of gymnosperm and angiosperm plants which occurs after fertilization and some growth within the mother plant...

s 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
Germination
Germination is the process in which a plant or fungus emerges from a seed or spore, respectively, and begins growth. The most common example of germination is the sprouting of a seedling from a seed of an angiosperm or gymnosperm. However the growth of a sporeling from a spore, for example the...

 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. Many Myosotis species are endemic to New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, though it is likely that the genus originated in the Northern Hemisphere . One or two Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an species, especially the Wood Forget-me-not, Myosotis sylvatica
Myosotis sylvatica
Myosotis sylvatica is a herbaceous perennial plant of the genus Myosotis.Myosotis sylvatica is a compact bushy plant with lance-shaped foliage and tiny delicate blue flowers in May and June. It grows in rich, moist soil in part shade to shade. It is appropriate for woodland gardens, groundcover,...

 have been introduced
Introduced species
An introduced species — or neozoon, alien, exotic, non-indigenous, or non-native species, or simply an introduction, is a species living outside its indigenous or native distributional range, and has arrived in an ecosystem or plant community by human activity, either deliberate or accidental...

 into most of the temperate regions of Europe, Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 and America
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

. Myosotis scorpioides
Myosotis scorpioides
Myosotis scorpioides , the Water Forget-me-not or True Forget-me-not, is a herbaceous perennial plant of the genus Myosotis. It is native to Europe and Asia and it can be found elsewhere, including much of North America, as an introduced species and sometimes a noxious weed. It grows in bogs and...

  is also known as scorpion grass due to the spiraling curve of its inflorescence. Myosotis alpestris is the state flower of Alaska.

Forget-me-nots are used as food plants by the larva
Larva
A larva is a distinct juvenile form many animals undergo before metamorphosis into adults. Animals with indirect development such as insects, amphibians, or cnidarians typically have a larval phase of their life cycle...

e of some Lepidoptera
Lepidoptera
Lepidoptera is a large order of insects that includes moths and butterflies . It is one of the most widespread and widely recognizable insect orders in the world, encompassing moths and the three superfamilies of butterflies, skipper butterflies, and moth-butterflies...

 species including Setaceous Hebrew Character
Setaceous Hebrew Character
The Setaceous Hebrew Character is a moth of the family Noctuidae. It is found in the Palearctic ecozone. It is a common species throughout Europe. It is also found in North America, from coast to coast across Canada and the northern United States to western Alaska. It occurs in the Rocky Mountains...

.

Other plants called forget-me-not

The Chatham Islands forget-me-not belongs to a related genus, Myosotidium

Folklore and legend

In a German legend, God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 named all the plants when a tiny unnamed one cried out, "Forget-me-not, O Lord!" God replied, "That shall be your name."

Henry IV
Henry IV of England
Henry IV was King of England and Lord of Ireland . He was the ninth King of England of the House of Plantagenet and also asserted his grandfather's claim to the title King of France. He was born at Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire, hence his other name, Henry Bolingbroke...

 adopted the flower as his symbol during his exile in 1398, and retained the symbol upon his return to England the following year.

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.

Remembrance

Prior to becoming the tenth province of Canada in 1949, Newfoundland
Dominion of Newfoundland
The Dominion of Newfoundland was a British Dominion from 1907 to 1949 . The Dominion of Newfoundland was situated in northeastern North America along the Atlantic coast and comprised the island of Newfoundland and Labrador on the continental mainland...

 (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.

Freemasons
Freemasonry
Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million, including approximately 150,000 under the jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge...

 began using the flower in 1926 as a symbol well known in Germany as message not to forget the poor and desperate. Many other German charities were also using it at this time. In later years, by a handful of Masons, it was a means of recognition in place of the square and compass design. This was done across Nazi occupied Europe to avoid any danger of being singled out and persecuted. The symbol of the forget-me-not in modern Masonry has become more prevalent and exaggerated claims about the use of the symbol are often made in order to promote sales of bumper stickers of the symbol. Today it is an interchangeable symbol with Freemasonry and some also use the Forget-me-not to remember those masons who were victimized by the Nazi regime.

In literature

Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau was an American author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, and leading transcendentalist...

 wrote, "The mouse-ear forget-me-not, Myosotis laxa, has now extended its raceme
Raceme
A raceme is a type of inflorescence that is unbranched and indeterminate and bears pedicellate flowers — flowers having short floral stalks called pedicels — along the axis. In botany, axis means a shoot, in this case one bearing the flowers. In a raceme, the oldest flowers are borne...

s 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."

In Evangeline
Evangeline
Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie, is an epic poem published in 1847 by the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The poem follows an Acadian girl named Evangeline and her search for her lost love Gabriel, set during the time of the Expulsion of the Acadians.The idea for the poem came from...

, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an American poet and educator whose works include "Paul Revere's Ride", The Song of Hiawatha, and Evangeline...

 wrote,
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
Wallace Stevens
Wallace Stevens was an American Modernist poet. He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, educated at Harvard and then New York Law School, and spent most of his life working as a lawyer for the Hartford insurance company in Connecticut.His best-known poems include "Anecdote of the Jar",...

 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
Keith Douglas
Keith Castellain Douglas , was an English poet noted for his war poetry during World War II and his wry memoir of the Western Desert Campaign, Alamein to Zem Zem. He was killed during the invasion of Normandy.-Poetry:...

, 1920–1944, wrote his poem "Vergissmeinnicht" (Forget-me-not) about a dead German soldier in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 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.

J.R.R. Tolkien refers to the flower in his poems. The character of Tom Bombadil
Tom Bombadil
Tom Bombadil is a supporting character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He appears in Tolkien's high fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings, published in 1954 and 1955. In the first volume, The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo Baggins and company meet Bombadil in the Old Forest...

 is said to have the colour of the flower on his jacket (Lord of the Rings, chapter seven, book I).

In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K Rowling when Harry Potter first meets Professor Lockhart, Professor Lockhart "...was wearing robes of forget-me-not blue that exactly matched his eyes..." (chapter four page 59 of the 1999 American edition).

Selected species

  • Myosotis alpestris
    Myosotis alpestris
    Myosotis alpestris or Alpine Forget-me-not is a herbaceous perennial plant of the genus Myosotis.The Alpine Forget-me-not is the county flower of Westmorland in the United Kingdom and the state flower of Alaska....

     - Alpine Forget-me-not
  • Myosotis arvensis
    Myosotis arvensis
    Myosotis arvensis or Field Forget-me-not is a herbaceous annual of the genus Myosotis. The flowers are 2–5 mm large, and clearly pale blue. They stand in small groups dense at each other. The flowering period runs from May to late in the autumn....

     - 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 decumbens
    Myosotis decumbens is a plant species of the genus Myosotis....

  • Myosotis discolor
    Myosotis discolor
    Myosotis discolor is a species of forget-me-not known by the common name changing forget-me-not. It is native to Europe, and it can also be found throughout eastern and western North America, where it is an introduced species. It grows in many types of habitat, including disturbed areas such as...

     - Changing Forget-me-not
  • Myosotis latifolia
    Myosotis latifolia
    Myosotis latifolia is a species of forget-me-not known by the common name broadleaf forget-me-not. It is native to northwestern Africa, and it is known elsewhere as an introduced species, including the west coast of the United States. It grows in many types of habitat, including moist, shaded,...

     - Broadleaf Forget-me-not
  • Myosotis laxa
    Myosotis laxa
    Myosotis laxa is a species of forget-me-not known by several common names, including tufted forget-me-not, bay forget-me-not, and small-flowered forget-me-not. It has a circumboreal distribution, occurring throughout northern parts of the Northern Hemisphere...

     - Tufted Forget-me-not, Bay Forget-me-not
  • Myosotis maritima - Maritime Forget-me-not, endemic to the archipelago of the Azores
    Azores
    The Archipelago of the Azores is composed of nine volcanic islands situated in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, and is located about west from Lisbon and about east from the east coast of North America. The islands, and their economic exclusion zone, form the Autonomous Region of the...

  • Myosotis nemorosa
    Myosotis nemorosa
    Myosotis nemorosa is a plant species of the genus Myosotis....

  • Myosotis ramosissima
    Myosotis ramosissima
    Myosotis ramosissima or Early Forget-me-not is a plant species of the genus Myosotis....

  • Myosotis scorpioides
    Myosotis scorpioides
    Myosotis scorpioides , the Water Forget-me-not or True Forget-me-not, is a herbaceous perennial plant of the genus Myosotis. It is native to Europe and Asia and it can be found elsewhere, including much of North America, as an introduced species and sometimes a noxious weed. It grows in bogs and...

     - True Forget-me-not
  • Myosotis secunda - Creeping Forget-me-not
  • Myosotis sicula - Jersey Forget-me-not
  • Myosotis stricta
    Myosotis stricta
    Myosotis stricta is a plant species of the genus Myosotis. Commonly known as Blue scorpion grass....

  • Myosotis sylvatica
    Myosotis sylvatica
    Myosotis sylvatica is a herbaceous perennial plant of the genus Myosotis.Myosotis sylvatica is a compact bushy plant with lance-shaped foliage and tiny delicate blue flowers in May and June. It grows in rich, moist soil in part shade to shade. It is appropriate for woodland gardens, groundcover,...

     - Wood Forget-me-not
  • Myosotis verna - Spring Forget-me-not
  • Myosotis venosa
  • Myosotis forsteri
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