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ORRIN MORRIS: Knots uncoild to become flowers on the forget-me-not

TRUE FORGET-ME-NOT Myosotis scorpioides

TRUE FORGET-ME-NOT Myosotis scorpioides

In July 2007, our nation paid tribute to a lady who taught us a new respect for the environment — Lady Bird Johnson. Among the issues that she made us aware of were the visual clutter of uncontrolled billboards and the tons of litter thrown from passing vehicles along our nation’s highways.

The reduction of clutter and litter was only the beginning of her beautification crusade. The adornment of the byways with an abundance of flowers was an equal passion for Lady Bird Johnson. A sanitized environment was nice, but better still was the enhancements by nature’s gifts, the wildflowers of America.

Many people before Mrs. Johnson championed the beautification cause, but her highly visible identity was a catalyst for nationwide awareness and civic action.

She could have sought obscurity after the many years of political life. But no, she invested her retirement years in what has become an integral part of the American lifestyle that celebrates the beauty of nature.

She led us, whose ancestors immigrated to these shores, to join anew with American Indians in celebrating the physical environment as a sacred trust of the Creator.

May today’s wildflower continually remind us of what one person with vision and passion can achieve and may we “forget not” the importance of the cause Mrs. Johnson championed.

TRUE FORGET-ME-NOT

Myosotis scorpioides

The true forget-me-not is one of the most vivid blues of all the wildflowers. The sky-blue petals are accented by the yellow eye. The tiny five-petal bloom measures between 1/2 to 1/3 inch. It is generally believed that the yellow ring in the center of the bloom helps lead bees to the nectar in the center tube.

The true forget-me-not is native to Europe and Asia. It is one species of 10 forget-me-nots in the United States. This is the most common, found in over 40 states.

The plants stand 6 inches to 18 inches tall. The stem is slightly hairy and the lance-shaped leaves alternate along the stem.

The most unique characteristic of this plant is the branches on which the blooms appear. When the plant is ready to produce flowers the stem divides into two branches, similar to racemes.

As the branches uncoil, the knots along the branches uncoil also to become the flowers. This may occur anytime between May and October along streams and low wet places.

Forget-me-not is common in legends dating back many centuries. One such legend tells that as Adam and Eve were walking out of Eden in disgrace, all the flowers, grasses and trees turned their “eyes” downward except one little blue-eyed flower that said “forget me not,” reminding them of the paradise they once enjoyed.

A fitting conclusion is Psalm 103:2, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all His benefits.”

Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. This column is included in a two-volume set of books of wildflower columns he has published. To purchase the books, visit the Nature Seen Gallery & Frame Shop, 914 Center Street in Olde Town Conyers. Email him at odmsketchingpad@yahoo.com.