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Myosotis (//; from the Ancient 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 official 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 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 happen to be 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 is native to Australia, New Zealand, and South America, where all are derived from a single dispersal to the Southern Hemisphere. One or two European species, especially Myosotis sylvatica, the "Woodland" Forget-me-Nots 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 born 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, and 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 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)
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.[better source needed]
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.
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.
- 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.)
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica. 10 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 663. .
- 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.
- 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. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2015-03-28.
- Lehnebach, Carlos A. (2012-08-21). "Two new species of forget-me-nots (Myosotis, Boraginaceae) from New Zealand" (PDF). PhytoKeys. 16: 53–64. doi:10.3897/phytokeys.16.3602. PMC 3492931. PMID 23233811. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-08-24.
- "Flora of New Zealand | Taxon Profile | Myosotis". www.nzflora.info.
- "Das Vergissmeinnicht-Abzeichen und die Freimaurerei". www.internetloge.de (in German). Archived from the original on 2019-05-02. Retrieved 2019-07-21.
- Bernheim, Alain. ""The Blue Forget-Me-Not": Another Side of the Story". Pietre-Stones Review of Freemasonry. Archived from the original on 2019-01-30. Retrieved 2019-07-21.
- "The Story Behind Forget Me Not Emblem!". Masonic Network Blog. 2009-12-11. Archived from the original on 2019-04-04. Retrieved 2019-07-21.