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Myosotis (//; from the Greek: μυοσωτίς "mouse's ear", which the foliage is thought to resemble) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Boraginaceae. In the northern hemisphere they are colloquially denominated forget-me-nots or Scorpion grasses. The colloquial name "Forget-me-not" was calqued from the German Vergissmeinnicht and first used in English in AD 1398 through King Henry IV of England. Similar names and variations are found in many languages. Myosotis alpestris is the state flower of Alaska and Dalsland, Sweden. Plants of the genus are commonly confused with Chatham Islands Forget-me-nots which belong to the related genus Myosotidium.
More than 500 species names have been recorded, but only 74 species are presently accepted. The remainder are either synonyms of presently accepted or proposed names. The genus is largely restricted to western Eurasia with circa 60 confirmed species and New Zealand with circa 40 confirmed species. A paucity of species occur elsewhere including in North America, South America, and Papua New Guinea. Despite this, Myosotis species are now common throughout temperate latitudes because of the introduction of cultivars and alien species. Many are popular in horticulture. They prefer moist habitats. In locales where they are not native, they frequently escape to wetlands and riverbanks. Only those native to the Northern hemisphere are colloquially denominated "Forget-me-nots".
Genetic analysis indicates that the genus originated in the Northern Hemisphere and that the species native to Australia, New Zealand and South America are all derived from a single dispersal to the Southern Hemisphere. One or two European species, especially Myosotis sylvatica (wood forget-me-not) were introduced into most of the temperate regions of Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
Myosotis species have 5-merous actinomorphic flowers with 5 sepals and petals. Flowers are typically 1 cm in diameter or less; flatly faced; colored blue, pink, white, or yellow with yellow centers; and borne on scorpioid cymes. They typically flower in Spring or soon after the melting of snow in alpine ecosystems. They are annual or perennial. The foliage is alternate. Their roots are generally diffuse.
The seeds are contained 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 placing a sheet of paper under stems and shaking the seed pods onto the paper.
Myosotis scorpioides is also colloquially denominated scorpion grass because of the spiraling curvature of its inflorescence.
- Myosotis abyssinica Boiss. & Reut.
- Myosotis afropalustris C.H. Wright
- Myosotis albiflora Banks & Sol. ex Hook. f.
- Myosotis alpestris F.W.Schmidt (alpine forget-me-not)
- Myosotis alpina Lapeyr
- Myosotis ambigens (Bég.) Grau
- Myosotis antarctica Hook. f.
- Myosotis arvensis (L.) Hill (field forget-me-not)
- Myosotis asiatica (Vestergr. ex Hultén) Schischk. & Serg. (Asiatic forget-me-not)
- Myosotis azorica H.C. Watson (Azores forget-me-not)
- Myosotis balbisiana Jord.
- Myosotis baltica Sam. ex Lindm.
- Myosotis bothriospermoides Kitag
- Myosotis cadmea Kitag
- Myosotis caespitosa Schultz (tufted forget-me-not)
- Myosotis chaffeyorum Lehnebach
- Myosotis decumbens Host
- Myosotis discolor Pers (changing forget-me-not)
- Myosotis densiflora C. Koch
- Myosotis incrassata Guss.
- Myosotis krylovii Serg.
- Myosotis lamottiana (Braun-Blanq. ex Chass.) Grau
- Myosotis latifolia Poir. (broadleaf forget-me-not)
- Myosotis laxa Lehm. (tufted forget-me-not or bay forget-me-not)
- Myosotis lithospermifolia Hornem.
- Myosotis monroi (Monro's forget me not)
- Myosotis macrosperma (Largeseed forget me not)
- Myosotis mooreana Lehnebach
- Myosotis nemorosa Besser
- Myosotis petiolata var. pansa (L.B.Moore) Meudt, Prebble, R.J.Stanley & Thorsen subsp. pansa (Waitakere forget-me-not)
- Myosotis ramosissima Rochel (early forget-me-not)
- Myosotis rivularis (Vestergr.) A.P. Khokhr
- Myosotis sachalinensis Popov
- Myosotis scorpioides L. (true forget-me-not)
- Myosotis secunda (creeping forget-me-not)
- Myosotis sicula Guss. (Jersey forget-me-not)
- Myosotis sparsiflora J.C.Mikan ex Pohl
- Myosotis speluncicola Schott ex Boiss
- Myosotis stenophylla Knaf
- Myosotis stricta Link ex Roem. & Schult
- Myosotis strigulosa Rchb.
- Myosotis sylvatica Ehrh. ex Hoffm (wood forget-me-not)
- Myosotis verna Nutt. (spring forget-me-not)
In popular culture
- In a German legend, God named all the plants when a tiny unnamed one exclaimed "Forget-me-not, O Lord!" God replied "That shall be your name." This symbolism is also used in the poem of Bruckner's cantata Vergißmeinnicht.
- In a Greek legend, when the Creator thought he had finished coloring the flowers, he heard one whisper "Forget me not!" There were no colors remaining except a very small amount of blue, i. e., pale blue, and the forget-me-not was delighted to wear it.
- In the mediaeval period ladies often wore forget-me-nots as a sign of faithfulness and enduring love.
- King Henry IV of England adopted the flower as his symbol during his exile in AD 1398, and retained it as such upon returning to England the following year.
- In Germany in the 15th century it was supposed that wearers of the flower would not be forgotten by their lovers.
- Freemasons began using the flower as a symbol in 1926 to remember the indigent and desperate. In later years, it was a substitute symbol for the square and compass. Some also use it to remember masons whom the Nazi regime of Germany victimized. Recently, it is more commonly worn to remember the deceased with the connotation that although absent they are remembered.
- Henry David Thoreau wrote that "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."
- In his description of his original design for the Flag of Alaska, Benny Benson stated that "the blue field is for the Alaska[n] sky and the forget-me-not, an Alaskan flower."
- In 1949 Newfoundland, Canada, then a separate British Dominion, used the forget-me-not as a symbol of remembrance of Canadian casualties of war. Although Newfoundlanders since adopted the Flanders Poppy as well, this symbolism is still presently used.
- It is used to symbolize the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide of remembrance of the 1.5 million whom the Ottoman Turks murdered in the Armenian Genocide of 1915-23.
- "Forget Me Nots" is a song composed by American rhythm and blues and crossover jazz singer and songwriter Patrice Rushen. The bass line is particularly recognizable, and session bass player Freddie Washington performed it on the record. Los Angeles session player and recording artist Gerald Albright played the classic tenor saxophone solo. Albright also appeared in the music video of the song. The lyrics are from the perspective of one professing her desire for renewing her love with a former lover. She ruminates on the termination of the romance and sends the lover forget-me-nots, a flower that since the mediaeval period has been given and worn as a symbol of enduring love despite the absence of or separation from the beloved.
- This flower is used in the end of the Love Live School Idol to represent the character Ayase Eli, in the "Bokutachi wa Hitotsu no Hikari" PV displayed at the end of the film.
- This flower is cited in the 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning oratorio, Anthracite Fields. They appear in the fourth movement, “Flowers”, where they are cited as one of the many kinds of flowers that the women who lived in coal mining cities would plant in their gardens.
- Carlos Lehnebach (2012). "Lectotypification of three species of forget-me-nots (Myosotis: Boraginaceae) from Australasia". Tuhinga. 23: 17–28.
- "Myosotis". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Richard C. Winkworth; Jürke Grau; Alastair W. Robertson; Peter J. Lockhart (2002). "The Origins and Evolution of the Genus Myosotis" (PDF). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 24 (2): 180–93. doi:10.1016/S1055-7903(02)00210-5. PMID 12144755.
- Sanders, Jack (2003). The Secrets of Wildflowers: A Delightful Feast of Little-Known Facts, Folklore, and History. Globe Pequot. ISBN 1-58574-668-1.
- "Alaska Kid's Corner". State of Alaska. Retrieved 2016-05-21.
- "Species in Myosotis". The Plant List. Retrieved 28 March 2015. Plant Life - Myosotis]
- Lehnebach CA. 2012. Two New Species of Forget-Me-Nots (Myosotis, Boraginaceae) from New Zealand. Phytokeys 16: 53-64. .
- NZ Flora factsheet - Myosotis
- "The Story behind the Forget-Me-Not". Alexander. 2009-12-11. Retrieved 2016-05-21.
- Thoreau, Henry David; Blake, Harrison Gray Otis; Emerson, Ralph Waldo; Sanborn, Franklin Benjamin (1884). The Writings of Henry David Thoreau. 6. p. 109. Archived from the original on 2009-10-09.
- "The forget-me-not flower" (PDF). The Armenian Church. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-24. Retrieved 2016-05-21.
- Times, Los Angeles (24 April 2015). "Armenian genocide: Massive march ends at Turkish consulate in L.A." latimes.com. Retrieved 8 June 2016.