1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Forget-me-not

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FORGET-ME-NOT, or Scorpion-Grass (Ger. Vergissmeinnicht, Fr. grémillet, scorpionne), the name popularly applied to the small annual or perennial herbs forming the genus Myosotis of the natural order Boraginaceae, so called from the Greek μῦς, a mouse, and οὖς, an ear, on account of the shape of the leaves. The genus is represented in Europe, north Asia, North America and Australia, and is characterized by oblong or linear stem-leaves, flowers in terminal scorpioid cymes, small blue, pink or white flowers, a five-cleft persistent calyx, a salver- or funnel-shaped corolla, having its mouth closed by five short scales and hard, smooth, shining nutlets. The common or true forget-me-not, M. palustris, is a perennial plant growing to a height of 6 to 18 in., with rootstock creeping, stem clothed with lax spreading hairs, leaves light green, and somewhat shining, buds pink, becoming blue as they expand, and corolla rotate, broad, with retuse lobes and bright blue with a yellow centre. The divisions of the calyx extend only about one-third the length of the corolla, whereas in the other British species of Myosotis it is deeply cleft. The forget-me-not, a favourite with poets, and the symbol of constancy, is a frequent ornament of brooks, rivers and ditches, and, according to an old German tradition, received its name from the last words of a knight who was drowned in the attempt to procure the flower for his lady. It attains its greatest perfection under cultivation, and, as it flowers throughout the summer, is used with good effect for garden borders; a variety, M. strigulosa, is more hairy and erect, and its flowers are smaller. In M. versicolor the flowers are yellow when first open and change generally to a dull blue; sometimes they are permanently yellowish-white. Of the species in cultivation, M. dissitiflora, 6 to 8 in., with large handsome abundant sky-blue flowers, is the best and earliest, flowering from February onwards; it does well in light cool soils, preferring peaty ones, and should be renewed annually from seeds or cuttings. M. rupicola, or M. alpestris, 2 to 3 in., intense blue, is a fine rock plant, preferring shady situations and gritty soil; M. azorica (a native of the Azores) with purple, ultimately blue flowers about half an inch across, has a similar habit but larger flowers; M. sylvatica, 1 ft., blue, pink or white, used for spring bedding, should be sown annually in August.