Myosotis verna (Spring Forget-me-not)
|Also known as:||Virginia Forget-me-not, Spring Scorpion Grass|
|Life cycle:||annual, biennial|
|Habitat:||sun; dry sandy or rocky soil; rock outcrops, savanna, meadows, open woods, along railroads|
|Bloom season:||April - July|
|Plant height:||3 to 15 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FAC MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Raceme of stalked flowers at the tips of branching stems, the cluster initially tightly curled at the tip with flowers opening in succession as the tip unfurls and elongates. Flowers are about 1/8 inch across, short tubular with 5 spreading, egg shaped to oblong lobes.
The calyx surrounding the base of the flower is about ¼ inch long, twice as long or more as the flower stalk and has five lance-triangular lobes, 3 of the lobes distinctly longer than the other two but shorter than the calyx tube. The floral tube is shorter than the calyx, causing the flower to take on a bell shape even when fully open. The calyx is densely covered in spreading hairs, at least some of which on the lower portion with minutely hooked tips (hand lens recommended). The central stem and flower stalks are densely covered in a mix of spreading and appressed hairs.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are alternate, toothless, the lower leaves mostly broadest above the middle, often stalked, the tip rounded, up to 2 inches long and 1/3 inch wide, becoming smaller, stalkless and more lance-oblong as they ascend the stem. Surfaces are densely covered in spreading and appressed hairs, with a sparse fringe of hairs all around the edge. The lowest leaves wither away by flowering time. Stems are round in cross-section or angled, multiple and branched at the base or single, erect, few branched above, the branches erect to ascending, densely covered in a mix of spreading and appressed hairs.
Fruit is four parted, (a schizocarp) hidden inside the persistent calyx, spliting into four dark, shiny, egg shaped nutlets (mericarps) less than 1/10 inch long, longer than the persistent style.
Spring Forget-me-not, sometimes known by synonym Myosotis virginica, is uncommon in Minnesota, restricted to small areas in and near rock outcrops in our central and western counties. Also called Virginia Forget-me-not, it is the first of our 5 Myosotis species to appear and in droughty years it can be all done flowering by mid-June. It is unlikely to be confused with any of the other Myosotis species in Minnesota, distinguished by its small, typically all white flowers that lack a yellow throat collar. It has also been confused with smaller specimens of Hackelia sp. and Lappula sp. both of which are distantly related, but can get several feet tall at maturity, have small but distinctly bluer flowers with a white or yellow throat collar, large, lance-elliptic leaves and round fruit with stiff velcro-like prickles on the outer surface.
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Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Rneville and Rock counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?