Mouse’s ear

The Wood forget-me-not‘s (Myosotis sylvatica) genus derives from the Greek word for mouse’s ear.

The wood forget-me-not can also be referred to as the woodland forget-me-not.

The wood forget-me-not can be found across most of the UK, but is most common in southern and eastern England. They can often be located along woodland ridges and edges, in ancient and wet woodlands, and sometimes in hedgerows and verges, as an escaped garden variety.

Wood forget-me-not’s leaves and stems are softly hairy. The leaves are more sessile (without a stalk), and are lanceolate (lance-shaped) or ovate (oval-shaped). These leaves also appear alternate on the stem, with the lowest leaves being the broadest. The full plant can grow up to a height of 50 cm.

M. sylvatica produces clusters of bright, sky-blue flowers, that have an orange or white centre. The wood forget-me-not’s flowers are often 6-10 mm across, and each one has five petals. They usually bloom between April and June.

These flowers can also show as a pink-purple colour, which might be as they are part of the Borages (Boraginaceae family). Others within this family sometimes have flowers that are initially pink, but turn blue as they mature.

The common name ‘forget-me-not’ first appeared in English in the mid-1500s, which actually relates to the plants foul taste.

This common name also features in many folklores and legends. For example, in England, it was said that Henry of Lancaster (later, King Henry IV) chose the forget-me-not and its French name, “souvenez-vous de moi”, as his emblem and motto when he was banished. The flower and motto were woven into his knight’s collar, and his followers wore the flowers as signs of support. After the Battle of Waterloo, it is rumoured that forget-me-nots sprang up across the battlefield.