Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Remembering Forget-me-nots

Forget-me-nots (c) John Ashley

"It is one of the most interesting minute flowers. It is the more beautiful for being small and unpretending; even flowers must be modest."  (Henry David Thoreau, June 12, 1852)

Writing in his journal on this date 161 summers ago, Thoreau was describing the small forget-me-nots (Myosotis laxa) that he found growing along a brook during his daily ramble. It's one of eight flowering plants called "forget-me-not" that reside here in Montana. Of these, three are native and four are introduced. No one is sure about number eight yet.

Alpine forget-me-nots (c) John Ashley
Alpine forget-me-nots
In Montana we have: (native) small, alpine and Howard's forget-me-nots; (introduced) Asian, rough, small-flowered and true forget-me-nots. The jury is still out on early forget-me-nots.

There are legends surrounding forget-me-nots in almost every major language. My favorite is a Persian story that tells of a male angel who was cast from heaven for his love of an Earthly woman with forget-me-nots woven into her braids. He wasn't allowed to return unless his beloved planted forget-me-nots in every corner of Earth. They set to work hand-in-hand, and upon completion the couple entered paradise together.

So now we have forget-me-nots growing almost everywhere, and you might recall this love story next time you see these modest flowers coloring your own little corner of the Earth.