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Myosotis arvensis
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Boraginales
Family: Boraginaceae
Subfamily: Boraginoideae
Genus: Myosotis
Type species
Myosotis scorpioides
L. [1]

Myosotis (/ˌməˈstɪs/ MY-ə-SOH-tiss[2]) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Boraginaceae. The name comes from the Ancient Greek μυοσωτίς "mouse's ear", which the foliage is thought to resemble.[3] In the Northern Hemisphere, they are colloquially known as forget-me-nots or scorpion grasses. [4] Myosotis alpestris is the official flower of Alaska[5] and Dalsland, Sweden. Plants of the genus are not to be confused with Chatham Islands' forget-me-nots, which belong to the related genus Myosotidium.



The genus was originally described by Carl Linnaeus. The type species is Myosotis scorpioides. Myosotis species are annual or perennial, herbaceous, flowering plants with pentamerous actinomorphic flowers with five sepals and petals.[3] Flowers are typically 1 cm (½") in diameter or less, flatly faced, coloured typically blue, but sometimes pink, white or yellow with yellow centres and borne on scorpioid cymes. Their foliage is alternate, and their roots are generally diffuse. They typically flower in spring or soon after the melting of snow in alpine ecosystems.

Myosotis sylvatica

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 colloquially called scorpion grass because of the spiraling curvature of its inflorescence.[3]



The genus is largely restricted to western Eurasia, with over 60 confirmed species,[6] and New Zealand with around 40 endemic species.[7] A few species occur elsewhere, including North America, South America, and Papua New Guinea.[8] 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.

One or two European species, especially Myosotis sylvatica, the "woodland" forget-me-not, have been introduced into most of the temperate regions of Europe, Asia, and the Americas.

Genetic analysis indicates that the genus originated in the Northern Hemisphere, and that species native to New Zealand, Australia, New Guinea, and South America form a lineage of closely related species that are likely derived from a single dispersal event to the Southern Hemisphere.[8][9]


Hover fly (Sphaerophoria scripta) feeding on a Myosotis flower

Myosotis species are food for the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including the setaceous Hebrew character. Many of the species in New Zealand are threatened.[10]



Of more than 510 recorded species names, only 152 species are presently accepted, listed below.[11] The remainder are either synonyms or hybrids of presently accepted or proposed names.[11][12]




The small, blue forget-me-not flower was first used by the Grand Lodge Zur Sonne, in 1926, as a Masonic emblem at the annual convention in Bremen, Germany. In 1938, a forget-me-not badge—made by the same factory as the Masonic badge—was chosen for the annual Nazi Party Winterhilfswerk, the annual charity drive of the National Socialist People's Welfare, the welfare branch of the Nazi party. This coincidence enabled Freemasons to wear the forget-me-not badge as a secret sign of membership.[13][better source needed][14]

After World War II, the forget-me-not flower was used again as a Masonic emblem in 1948 at the first Annual Convention of the United Grand Lodges of Germany. The badge is now worn in the coat lapel by Freemasons around the world to remember all who suffered in the name of Freemasonry, especially those during the Nazi era.[15]

The flower is also used as a symbol of remembrance by the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is used to commemorate those from the province who were killed in the First World War, and worn around July 1.[citation needed]

It is also used in Germany to commemorate the fallen soldiers of the world wars in a similar manner to the use of remembrance poppies in the UK.[citation needed]

The flower is also the symbol for the Armenian genocide's 100th anniversary. The design of the flower is a black dot symbolising the past, and the suffering of Armenian people. The light purple appendages symbolise the present, and unity of Armenians. The five purple petals symbolise the future, and the five continents to which Armenians escaped. The yellow in the centre symbolises eternity, and the Tsitsernakaberd itself symbolises the 12 provinces lost to Turkey.[16]

In Lithuania, the flower has become one of the symbols for the commemoration of the January events of 1991.[17]

In the Netherlands, the forget-me-not has become a symbol for Alzheimer Nederland, a foundation advocating for people suffering from dementia.

In New Zealand, the forget-me-not is the symbol for Alzheimers New Zealand, the foundation advocating for people suffering from Alzheimer's disease and dementia.[18]

In the United Kingdom, many health settings make use of the forget-me-not as a symbol to highlight that someone has dementia; it may be placed on notes, bedsides or patient boards.[19] Also in the United Kingdom, the forget-me-not is the symbol of the Alzheimer's Society.[20]

In the history of art, the forget-me-not is used to remember loved ones who have died, and so is very common in funerary portraits.


  1. ^ Lehnebach, C. (2012). "Lectotypification of three species of forget-me-nots (Myosotis: Boraginaceae) from Australasia". Tuhinga. 23: 17–28.
  2. ^ "Myosotis". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  3. ^ a b c Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Forget-me-not" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 10 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 663.
  4. ^ "Water forget-me-not | The Wildlife Trusts". www.wildlifetrusts.org. Retrieved 30 April 2024.
  5. ^ "Alaska Kid's Corner". State of Alaska. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  6. ^ "Name > I - N > Myosotis - Beth Chatto's Plants & Gardens". www.bethchatto.co.uk. Retrieved 27 May 2024.
  7. ^ "Flora of New Zealand | Taxon Profile | Myosotis". www.nzflora.info.
  8. ^ a b Winkworth, Richard C.; Grau, Jürke; Robertson, Alastair W.; Lockhart, Peter J. (2002). "The Origins and Evolution of the Genus Myosotis L. (Boraginaceae)" (PDF). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 24 (2): 180–93. doi:10.1016/S1055-7903(02)00210-5. PMID 12144755.
  9. ^ Meudt, Heidi M.; Prebble, Jessica M.; Lehnebach, Carlos A. (7 November 2014). "Native New Zealand forget-me-nots (Myosotis, Boraginaceae) comprise a Pleistocene species radiation with very low genetic divergence". Plant Systematics and Evolution. 301 (5): 1455–1471. doi:10.1007/s00606-014-1166-x. ISSN 0378-2697. S2CID 14686750.
  10. ^ Lehnebach, Carlos A. (21 August 2012). "Two new species of forget-me-nots (Myosotis, Boraginaceae) from New Zealand". PhytoKeys (16): 53–64. doi:10.3897/phytokeys.16.3602. PMC 3492931. PMID 23233811.
  11. ^ a b "Myosotis L.". Plants of the world online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 1 September 2022.
  12. ^ "Home". www.worldfloraonline.org. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  13. ^ "Das Vergissmeinnicht-Abzeichen und die Freimaurerei". www.internetloge.de (in German). Archived from the original on 2 May 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  14. ^ Bernheim, Alain. ""The Blue Forget-Me-Not": Another Side of the Story". Pietre-Stones Review of Freemasonry. Archived from the original on 30 January 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  15. ^ "The Story Behind Forget Me Not Emblem!". Masonic Network Blog. 11 December 2009. Archived from the original on 4 April 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  16. ^ "Հայոց ցեղասպանության 100-րդ տարելիցի խորհրդանիշը անմոռուկ ծաղիկն է, կարգախոսը՝ "Հիշում եմ և պահանջում"". www.armenpress.am (in Armenian). Armenpress. Archived from the original on 28 May 2014. Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  17. ^ "Flower of discord: Lithuanian politicians clash over forget-me-not symbol". lrt.lt. 4 February 2020. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  18. ^ "Home". Alzheimers New Zealand. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  19. ^ "Forget me not – dementia help in Hospitals". BBC News. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  20. ^ "About the Forget me not Appeal | Alzheimer's Society". www.alzheimers.org.uk. Retrieved 30 June 2024.