Myosotis scorpioides - common forget-me-not

Family: Boraginaceae
Wetland Indictor Status: FACW

General Species Description

Common forget-me-not is a stoloniferous to rhizomatous plant that grows 20-60 cm tall. The stems are long, weak and leafy to the tips.


The leaves are simple, alternate, oblong to lance shaped with with smooth margins and soft, erect hairs. The size is commonly 2.5-8 cm long and 7-20 mm wide. Lower leaves may have winged stalks.


The flowers of Common forget-me-not are five lobed and wheel shaped. They have purplish-blue petals with yellow centers and originate on terminal racemes. There are five stamens on each flower and each sepal is 3-4 mm long. The flowers are usually up to 10 mm wide and the petal lobes overlap each other slightly.


The fruits of the common forget-me-not are very tiny. The "nutlets" are four lobed, convex and smooth at the top with angular sides.


Common forget-me-not is commonly found in freshwater marshes, ditches, slow moving water and shallow pools. It grows best in saturated soils and is usually found growing with many obligate plant species such as water parsley (Oenanthe sarmentosa), sedges (Carex species), and American brooklime (Veronica americana). It may also be found growing among cattails (Typha sp.) and different mint species (Mentha sp.).


Common forget-me-not is a native plant of Eurasia. It is found extensively throughout the Pacific Northwest and up into British Columbia. It has been found in all counties in western Washington and northwestern Oregon. It is most abundant in moist to wet sites in low to mid elevations. It can also be found, though rare, in the Queen Charlotte Islands and northern southeast Alaska.

Similar Species

Similar to the common forget-me-not is the small water forget-me-not (Myosotis laxa). Though the two plants are very similar there are two main distinguishing features. The petals of the small water forget-me-not do not overlap each other as do the petals of the common forget-me-not. Also the small water forget-me-not grows from a single clump of fibrous roots whereas the common forget-me-not is stoloniferous to rhizomatous. The flowers of the small water forget-me-not are usually light blue rather than the purple-blue of the common forget-me-not. Other similar species are the Water veronica (Veronica anagallis-aquatica) and the Marsh veronica (Veronica scutellata). Water veronica has smaller flowers, opposite, clasping leaves and notched fruits. Marsh Veronica has linear to linear-lance-shaped leaves which are opposite and up to 8 cm long. It has deeply notched fruits and few-flowered racemes.

Ecological Value

Because of its creeping nature, common forget-me-not can aid in erosion control or act as bedding for small animals.

Human Value

Common forget-me-not is very pleasing to the eye.


Cooke, Sarah Spear, 1997. A Field Guide to the Common Wetland Plants of Western Washington and Northwestern Oregon. Seattle Audubon Society and Washington Native Plant Society. Seattle Audubon Society. Seattle WA, 471pp. Pojar, Jim and MacKinnon, Andy, 1994. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast; Washington Oregon, British Columbia and Alaska. B.C. Ministry of Forests and Lone Pine Publishing. Canada, 527pp.

This page was created by: Mandy Summer, August 1998

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