Small Forget-me-not

Myosotis laxa

Species distinguishing characteristics: 

  • Tiny, light blue flowers with a yellow center
  • Hairs on the calyx, or base of the petals, lay flat
  • Plant does not have creeping roots on stem
  • Grows in or near water, or in other moist areas

Family Characteristics: 

  • Predominantly blue flowers (sometimes pink, purple, yellow, or white) with 5 flaring lobes
  • Coiled flowering stalk, like a scorpion’s tail, with flowers blooming on the upper surface and lower flowers opening first
  • Foliage usually covered in rough hairs
  • Leaves alternate, simple, and entire
  • Fruit consists of 4 nutlets (occasionally fewer)

Growth habitat: 

Perennial, occasionally annual or biennial, up to 40 cm tall. 

Leaves and stems: 

Sparsely hairy foliage with hairs that lay flat against the stem.  Slender, weak stems are branched close to the base, if at all, and arise in a tuft.  Long, narrow, alternate leaves (2-4 cm long by 3-15 mm wide) have rounded or pointed tips, a prominent mid-vein and attach directly to the stem. 

Flowers: 

Pastel blue (occasionally white) flowers with a yellow ring in the center.  Flowers are borne at the tip of the stem in a curving branched cluster that uncoils as the flowers bloom.  Flowers are 2-5 mm across and have 5 lobes that are rounded at the tip (not notched).  The base of the petals forms a tube, or calyx, less than or equal to the length of the petal lobes.  Hairs on the calyx lay flat and are not spreading or hooked.

Roots: 

Diffuse, fibrous roots.  Creeping roots do not form on the stem as in similar species.

Seeds: 

Small (less than 2 mm across), shiny, brown to black "nutlets" in clusters of 4 per flower.

Habitat preferences: 

In mud, shallow water, or moist areas at low elevations, such as along streams, riparian areas, wetlands, and open areas.

Interesting facts: 

The genus name Myosotis, from the greek words “mus” (mouse) and “ous” (ear), refers to the soft, hairy leaves.  Myosotis species were used by various cultures as a love charm and a flower for memorializing the dead.  The larvae of some Lepidoptera moths and butterflies, including the spotted cutworm (Xestia c-nigrum), use small forget-me-nots as food plants.

Biological Classification: