Common Names: Mouse ear
Forget me nots are dainty star-shaped flowers in the borage family. Their flowers are borne in clusters and may be blue, white, violet or pink with bright yellow centers. Their alternate green leaves seemed to the ancient Greeks to be shaped like a mouse’s ears. Their seed pods disperse themselves by clinging to fur and clothing and some species of forget me not have escaped cultivation and become weedy invaders in wetlands and along riverbanks.
Myosotis sylvatica Wood Forget-me-not
Myosotis scorpioides Scorpion Grass
Myosotis alpestris State flower of Alaska
Myosotis laxa Moose ear forget-me-not
Forget-me-Not History and Folklore
Henry IV adopted the forget-me-not as his emblem in 1398.
In medieval Germany, forget-me-nots were worn by lovers to ensure they would not forget each other while they were apart.
In Newfoundland, forget-me-nots were once used to commemorate the war dead.
In the Victorian language of flowers, the forget-me-not means friendship, loving remembrance, and fidelity.
Germany in the early 20th century, the flower was a reminder not to forget the poor and destitute and Freemasons distributed them among themselves to remind each other of charitable activities. According to legend, Freemasons used the flower in place of the traditional square and compass design to identify one another secretly and to avoid detection by the Nazis. Today, the forget-me-not symbol is used interchangeably with the square and compass symbol as a symbol of Freemasonry, especially in Germany1.
Legend’s of the Name’s Origin
- When God was naming all the flowers, one small flower cried out “Forget me not, O Lord!” and God said, “That shall be your name!”.
- When God was giving the world its color, one small flower cried out “Forget me not, O Lord!” but there was only the smallest bit of blue left, so he painted the flower with the palest blue and it was called forget-me-not.
- When the Christ Child was sitting on Mary’s lap one day, he decided that the whole world should know the beautiful blue of her eyes and waved his hand and forget-me-nots sprung up.
- As a knight and his lady walked along the river, the knight bent down to pick his lady some flowers, but he slipped and fell into the river and the weight of his armor bore him down. As he slipped beneath the water he cried out “Forget-me-not”!
Growing Forget Me Nots
Forget me Nots do well in full to partial shade and prefer a moist environment. Forget-me-nots bloom in the springtime. There are both perennial and annual varieties. Annuals and perennials alike reseed vigorously.
Forget-me-not cannot tolerate temperatures below -33 degrees F and cannot tolerate drought conditions.
Magical Attributes of Forget-me-Not
Forget-me-Not can be worn or carried to keep a lover close to your heart. Give forget-me-nots to someone you would like to keep you in mind.
Healing with Forget-me-Not
Forget-me-not has been used for lung problems and nose bleeds. However, there is some concern about liver damage and cancer. There is no evidence that it is particularly helpful in any case so it’s not the best plant for your herbal medicine chest. The flowers are sometimes steeped to make a soothing herbal tea. This is safe enough if not done on a regular basis, but probably not worth it.