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Last updated on April 23, 2014 at 12:54 EDT

Forget-me-not, Myosotis arvensis

The Forget-me-nots are the genus Myosotis of flowering plants in the family Boraginaceae.

There are about 50 species in the genus, and among them there is considerable variation. Nevertheless a considerable number of the species fit the same description, of a small (1 cm diameter) rather flat 5-petalled blue flower growing profusely on straggly stems, flowering in spring. Color variation is not unusual within species, and white or pink forms are quite likely to be seen. Cultivated forms often show a mixture of colors which makes them popular in gardens.

Forget-me-nots can be annual or perennial plants. Their root systems are generally diffuse.

They are widely distributed. Most Myosotis species are common to New Zealand, though one or two European species, especially the Wood Forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica) have been introduced in most of the temperate regions of Europe, Asia and America.

The forget-me-not is the state flower of Alaska.

Why “Forget-me-not”?

The name was borrowed from Old French “ne m’oubliez pas” which was translated from German “Vergissmeinnicht”. Loans and translations of it can be found in most European languages, like Dutch “vergeet-mij-nietje” ,Danish “forglem-mig-ej”, Swedish “förgätmigej”, Romanian “nu mă uita”, Hungarian “nefelejcs”, Czech “pomnÄ›nka”, Russian “незабудка (nezabudka)”,Slovak “nezábudka”, Polish “niezapominajka”, Italian “nontiscordardimé”, Spanish “nomeolvides”, etc.

In the 15th century Germany, it was supposed that the wearers of the flower will not be forgotten by their lovers. Under the Second World War the freemasons of Germany (who also were sent to concentration camps) used the flower to secretly identify themselves to each other.

Legend has it that in medieval times, a knight and his lady were walking along the side of a river. He picked a posy of flowers, but because of the weight of his armor he fell into the river. As he was drowning he threw the posy to his loved one and shouted “Forget-me-not”. This is a flower connected with romance and tragic fate. It was often worn by ladies as a sign of faithfulness and enduring love.

Forget-me-not Myosotis arvensis