Sunday, 15 July 2012

Myosotis arvensis - Forget-Me-Not

Field Forget-me-not
Mysotis arvensis
Lus míonla goirt
Family: Boraginaceae
Flowering time: April-September. Annual. Native.

Flowers and Fruit
The blue flowers are in leafless racemes. The calyx is fused and leaf-like with 5 tips. The corolla is shaped like a stemmed plate, has 5 tips, and is glabrous with yellow scales in the tube. The tube is enclosed in the calyx. There are 5 stamens and a 4-valvular ovary. The fruit stems  are twice as long as the caylx and stand out. The calyx is closed when the fruit ripens. The fruit is composed of 4 nutlets.

Leaves, Stem and Root
The plant is leafy and grows from 15 to 40 cm high. The stem is erect or ascendent and pubescent. The leaves are alternate. The lower leaves are petiolate and oblong-obovate, the upper ones sessile and lanceolate to lanceolate-oblong.

Maud Grieve notes: This plant has a strong affinity for the respiratory organs, especially the left lower lung. On the Continent it is sometimes made into a syrup and given for pulmonary affections. There is a tradition that a decoction or juice of the plant hardens steel. (Grieve, 1931)

The herb contains Pyrrolizidine alkaloids so should only be used under the guidance of a professional herbalist. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are considered to be hepatotoxic in high doses.

Henriette Kress suggests uses of Mysotis include:  Chronic bronchitis and phthisis. Night-sweats. Respiratory.--Cough with profuse muco-purulent expectoration, gagging and vomiting during cough; worse while or after eating. Bronchorrhoea. Pain in left lung (lower); painful while coughing and sensitive to percussion. 

This herb is not commonly used in modern herbal medicine but is a wonderful little flower that is attractive to ladybirds and provide summer and autumn nectar for butterflies and bees, so makes a great addition to any wildflower garden.

Legend has it that  a medieval German knight is said to have been picnicking on the bank of the Danube with his lady love. He descended the bank to the water’s edge to gather some of the lovely blue flowers he saw there, but while he was near the water, tragedy struck. A “freshet” (flash flood) suddenly appeared and pulled the young man into the churning river. As he was literally swept away, he tossed the bouquet to his lady on the bank with the three now-famous words: “Forget me not!” 
The plant is abundant in the garden this year and has reminded me to do a little more research and bring this herb back into use. Forget me not indeed...

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