Changing Forget-me-not

Native to Europe, changing forget-me-not (Myosotis discolor) was introduced into North America and can now be found in the western and eastern states, but not the Central Plains. This member of the borage family prefers moist areas. These plants were growing along the banks of Ash Creek (Lassen County CA) with their roots partially in the water.

Changing forget-me -not is an annual or short-lived, hairy perennial arising from fibrous roots. The simple, linear, lance-shaped leaves alternate on the slender, weak stems. The stalked flowers are arranged in a coiled raceme (unbranched inflorescence of stalked flowers blooming from the bottom up). Each flower consists of five petals fused into a tube, five sepals and five stamens. The flowers of changing forget-me-not are yellow or cream when new and turn blue with maturity. One theory is that the color change after pollination signals pollinators that nectar is no longer available. The fruits are dry nutlets.

There is no consensus about the derivation of the common name, forget-me-not. One explanation goes back to the 1500s when blue flowers were given to maintain a lover’s devotion. Others say that blue flowers were presented to travelers on the start of their journey so as not to be forgotten. I think the little blue flowers of changing forget-me-not are pretty, but as a token of affection might prefer one of the less hairy Myosotis species.

In the past changing forget-me-not was used to treat dog and snake bites. It is also said that steel tempered with forget-me-not juice is hard enough to “cut stone”. If that is true, and I doubt the claim, I could use some forget-me-not kitchen knives to replace mine, which always seem to be dull.

Common forget-me-not and yellow and blue scorpion grass or scorpion weed (The coiled inflorescence resembles a scorpion tail.) are other common names for changing forget-me-not. The scientific name is also seen as Myosotis versicolor.



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