How a forgetful plant got its name, THE FORGET-ME-NOT (060)

Edging roadsides and woods, bordering ditches and meadows, you come across the tiny blue flowers of the forget-me-not everywhere.
Have you sometimes wondered how it came by its special name? Then come and listen to this old tale:
In the course of Creation God gave plants not only a form, a scent and a colour, but also a name. One of these plants had small blue flowers with a beautiful tiny yellow heart.
Impressed by everything going on around him during the Creation process, the plant looked about in amazement at how all the plants were being given names. As a result he forgot to pay attention. Finally, when all the plants had been named, he realized he’d forgotten his own.
“Do you know my name?” he asked all the plants, big and little, “I’ve forgotten mine.” But none of them could tell him. In the end, after some considerable hesitation, the little plant approached God and admitted: “I’ve done something rather stupid – I’ve forgotten my name. What’s my name?” God shook his head as he replied: “Forget-me-not!” The embarrassed little plant crept away and hid among the tall grasses. And to this day he has remained there, keeping slightly out of view among the other plants. Nevertheless, his bright blue little flowerlets stand out among the vegetation. And whenever he’s asked his name, he replies, still slightly embarrassed: “Forget-me-not”. Now that’s a name that nobody ever forgets!

The forget-me-not is a member of the borage family, as are viper’s bugloss, lungwort and common comfrey. The rough hairs on the leaves, stems and seeds are characteristic of this family. To see the forget-me-not’s hairs though you will need a magnifying glass. The tiny seeds are spread by passing animals, as the stiff hooks fasten onto animals’ fur and are then carried off with them. In The Netherlands there are seven species of forget-me-nots. The field and water forget-me-nots grow in humid ground and the seeds are mainly spread by water.  The other five grow in open dry places. Flies then ensure the pollination of the flowers.

© Els Baars,

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Els Baars