Designated the State Flower of Alaska in 1949
arctic alpine forget-me-not
Myosotis alpestris var. alpestris
Myosotis alpestris ssp. asiatica
Myosotis sylvatica var. alpestris
Duration – Growth Habit
Perennial – Forb/herb
Identification and Information
The alpine forget-me-not (Myosotis asiatica, previously known as Myosotis alpestris) is a small, blue or purple flowering perennial herb that grows in alpine environments. The entire plant is 3-38 cm (1-18 inches) tall but typically not taller than 30 cm (12 inches). It grows from diffuse, fibrous roots and a branching stem base or a spreading, short rhizome.
Basal leaves are hairy, oblanceolate (lance-shaped – pointed at the base) or elliptic, single, petiolate, and simple. The leaves are only about 5-13 cm (2-5 inches) in length. Stem leaves are sessile, oblong or elliptic in shape, about 6 cm (2.4 inches) in length, and reduced in size upward on the slender, erect stems. Alpine forget-me-not can be single or multi-stemmed.
The inflorescence is a terminal cluster of small blue flowers up to 6 mm (1/4 inch) in diameter. Each flower has 5 petals fused into a tube at the base with a bulging yellow center. The flower lacks bracts or sepals. The calyx tube has several stiff, hooked hairs (uncinate), which differentiate it from M. scorpioides which has straight hairs. The fruiting pods develop along the stem, are hairy, and are tulip-shaped. The fruits are composed of 4 clustered egg-shaped nutlets. The hooked hairs help the fruiting pods help attach to animals to germinate elsewhere.
Distribution and Habitat
Alpine forget-me-not is widely distributed across the northern hemisphere. In North America, it is isolated to the northwest. M. asiatica may be invasive in some of the countries shown above, as with many other forget-me-not flowers; it is frequently cultivated for gardens and can spread readily.
M. asiatica grows in alpine environments, often in moist soil near streambanks or marshy tundra. It can also be found on poorly drained rocky slopes. Alpine forget-me-nots bloom from June through July.
For information only (typically historical) – I take no responsibility for adverse effects from the use of any plant and do not recommend the use of any without consulting a doctor.
While I found no documentation for food/medicinal uses for the alpine forget-me-not species, Myosotis asiatica, the forget-me-not genus Myosotis has listed uses. Ornamental forget-me-nots like M. sylvatica are edible and can be used in salads. However, many forget-me-nots contain pyrrolizidine, a mild toxin that would be harmful in significant quantities. It would probably be good to shy away from using forget-me-nots in the wild as food. The Iroquois used a decoction of Myosotis with feed to aid in birthing cows. Myosotis has also been used as an astringent for wounds and nosebleeds.
|Scientific Name (Common Name)
|Plantae (plantes, Planta, Vegetal, plants)
|Viridiplantae (green plants)
|Streptophyta (land plants)
|Tracheophyta (vascular plants, tracheophytes)
|Spermatophytina (spermatophytes, seed plants, phanérogames)
|Boraginaceae (borage, bourraches)
|Myosotis L. (forget-me-not)
|Myosotis asiatica (alpine forget-me-not, Asian forget-me-not)
References and Further Reading
Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers, Pratt, Verna E. pg 9
Classification and Taxonomy
Myosotis sp., Common names: Forget Me Not, Native American Ethnobotany Database
Biologically Active Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids From the True Forget-Me-Not, Myosotis scorpioides
James F. Resch, Daniel F. Rosberger, Jerrold Meinwald, and Jeanne W. Appling
Journal of Natural Products 1982 45 (3), 358-362
Map and Distribution
Description and Information
Myosotis asiatica (Vesterg.) Schischkin & Sergievskaja, E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia
Plant of the Week: Alpine Forget-Me-Not, USDA/U.S. Forest Service