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Plants of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden

The oldest public wildflower garden in the United States

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Common Name
True Forget-me-not (Scorpion Weed, Marsh Scorpion Grass, Mouse-ear Scorpion Grass, Snake Grass.)

 

Scientific Name
Myosotis scorpioides L.

 

Plant Family
Borage (Boraginaceae)

Garden Location
Woodland - Marsh

 

Prime Season
Late Spring to Autumn Flowering

 

 

The True Forget-me-not is an introduced and naturalized semi-erect perennial forb, growing from 4 inches to slightly over one foot tall on angled hairy stems that are either upright or reclining or resting on another plant, and sometimes branched.

The Leaves are alternate and stalkless, linear to lance-shaped with acute tips and smooth margins. There is one main central vein. There is usually sparse hair on the leaf underside, sometimes short hair on the upper surface. Leaf margins will have hair. Look close to the ground to find the leaves.

The inflorescence is a short branched cluster (cyme), usually curving, without bracts, with stalked flowers at the end of a stem. The central stem of the cyme has appressed hairs. When in bud, the cyme has a coiled shape resembling a scorpions tail.

The flowers are small, up to 3/8 inch wide. The green calyx forms a tube and has five triangular shaped lobes, all parts with appressed hairs, as have the stalk and cluster stem. The light blue corolla has five petals that have a narrowed base with white coloration, with a yellow nectary ring at the throat of the corolla that forms a 5-sided eye. The petals open out flat at the top of the flower tube. Petals are widest near the tip, which is rounded with a rounded notch in the center, resembling a mouse-ear. The flowers are perfect, with 5 stamens surrounding the pistil and single style, none of which are exserted outside the corolla tube.

Seed: Fertile flowers form a four chambered capsule, each chamber containing a shiny angled black seed.

 

Habitat: Forget-me-nots are plants of wet places. In Eloise Butler they are found in abundance along Lady's-slipper Lane in the bog. They grow from a fibrous root system with some creeping rhizomes that vegetatively form colonies. They are not so aggressive as to be considered invasive, but they do supplant some native species. They grow best in full to partial sun in the wet to moist conditions of marshes and bogs. It will tolerate some standing water and is extremely cold tolerant.

Names: The genus name, Myosotis, is derived from two Greek words, mys, meaning 'mouse', and ous, meaning 'ear' - which refers to the shape of the flower petal - and hence one of the common names given above, although some references state that it is a reference to the leaf. The species name, scorpioides, means 'scorpion like', referring to the coiled shape of the inflorescence in the bud stage, which leads to some of the other common names. The author name for the plant classification, 'L.', refers to Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), Swedish botanist and the developer of the binomial nomenclature of modern taxonomy.

See bottom of page for notes on the Garden's planting history, distribution in Minnesota and North America, lore and other references.

plant groupForget-me-not drawing

Above: The sprawling stems are frequently intertwined with other plants for support. Drawing courtesy Kurt Stüber's Online Library.

Below: The flower buds are formed in a coiled loop prior to opening. The stamens, pistil and style are not exserted beyond the tube of the corolla and surrounded by that distinct yellow 5-sided nectary.

coiled buds Forget-me-not flowers

Below: The flower buds, stalks, cluster stalk and lobes of the calyx all have whitish appressed hair. The calyx ends in 5 pointed triangular lobes.

Cluster of buds calyx

Below: 2nd photo - detail of the stem hair and leaf hair.

Forget-me-not stem

Below: Leaves are without stalks (sessile). The upper surface (1st photo) and the underside (2nd photo) in this example show fine hair across the surface on the leaf edge. Note the prominent central vein.

leaf leaf underside

Notes:

Notes: There are a number plants with this common name, at least 11 known to be in North America. Three are found in the wild in Minnesota. Myosotis scorpioides L. is widely distributed in the United States. Martha Crone planted the species in 1946 and 1947. Eloise Butler had introduced, in 1909, the species native to Minnesota, M. Laxa Lehm. - the Bay (or Brook) Forget-me-not. It has not survived. The third species in Minnesota is M. arvensis, the Field Forget-me-not, which is native to Eurasia. In Minnesota Myosotis scorpioides has been found in eight counties, mostly in the eastern half of the State. It is not native to the state but to Europe and has become naturalized. It is listed as an invasive weed by some states, Wisconsin for example. In North America, M. scorpiodes is found in 41 states, including Alaska, and most Canadian Provinces including the Yukon. It survives cold temperatures quite well. It is known in Norway to have been found as far north as 69.733N.

Eloise Butler wrote this about the plant: "Happy is he who finds in brooks winding through meadows the tiny blossoms that vie with the violet and the rose in popular favor - the forget-me-not. It is not easy to Forget these pale blue flowers with yellow eyes - an unequalled harmony of color. The Brook Forget-me-not [referring here to M. laxa], after three unsuccessful attempts has been firmly established in the wild garden, where it blooms the summer long. The parent stock in Needham, Massachusetts, grew waist high in prodigal profusion. “Oh!” said one admirer 'these flowers are just like those we see on hats!' " Published August 27, 1911, Minneapolis Sunday Tribune.

References and site links

References: Plant characteristics are generally from sources 1A, 32, W2, W3, W7 & W8 plus others as specifically applied. Distribution principally from W1, W2 and 28C. Planting history generally from 1, 4 & 4a. Other sources by specific reference. See Reference List for details.

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