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Shoreline Plants  

Species: Myosotis laxa Lehm., small flowered forget-me-not
Myosotis scorpiodes L., common forget-me-not
Family: Boraginaceae

These low-growing herbs are often found on wet banks and growing in the shallow waters of ponds and lakes. The stems are weak, often bent at the base, with alternately arranged willow-like leaves. Tiny blue flowers are located along the upper end of the stem which unfurls in a "fiddleneck" fashion. Small flowered forget-me-not has smaller flowers than common forget-me-not, and no creeping horizontal stems. Common forget-me-not has thicker stems, and branched, creeping horizontal stems called stolons at the plant base.

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Leaf:  Long, narrow alternate leaves are attached directly to the stem and have pointed or rounded tips with a prominent mid-vein. Small flowered: 1.5-10 cm long and 3-15 mm wide. Common: 2.5-8 cm long and 7-20 mm wide.

Stem: Weak and trailing at the base. Small flowered: 10-40 cm long, does not form roots. Common: 20-60 cm tall, often forms roots and new plants at the nodes (stolons).

Flower: Tiny, short-stalked flowers have 5 blue petals with a yellow center and are arranged along the outside of the coiled stem tip. Blooms from June to September. Small flowered: 2-5 mm wide. The base of the petals forms a tube less than or equal to length of the petal lobes. Common: 5-10 mm wide. The base of the petals forms a tube longer than length of the petal lobes.

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

Root: Fibrous roots develop along the creeping stem of common forget-me-not.

Propagation: Seeds; common forget-me-not forms new plants at the nodes of creeping stolons.

Importance of plant: Some Pacific Northwest Native Americans used small flowered forget-me-not as a "love charm." Also had historical uses by other cultures to treat dog or snake bites. Common forget-me-not is sold as an aquatic garden plant.

Distribution:  Small flowered: scattered distribution worldwide, and from the east base of the Cascades to the coast in Washington. Common: European species, now introduced and widespread in Oregon and Washington.

Habitat: Moist open areas, margins of ditches, ponds, and lakes, and sometimes in shallow water.

May be confused with: Other species of forget-me-not (Myosotis spp.) which generally do not grow in water. Also may be confused with popcorn flowers (Plagiobothrys spp.) which have longer, narrower leaves and white flowers.

Photographs: Myosotis laxa, Myosotis scorpioides:

Line Drawings:

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