Borage family (Boraginaceae)
Description: This annual plant is about 3-10" long, branching occasionally toward the base. Smaller plants in sunlight are more or less erect, while larger plants in shade have a tendency to sprawl across the ground. The stems are light green and hairy. The alternate leaves are up to 1" long and 1/3" (8 mm.) across; they are oblong to oblong-lanceolate, medium green, sessile, and hairy. The leaf margins are smooth and ciliate. The upper stems terminate in elongated racemes of flowers; the raceme of the central stem eventually occupies over one-half the length of the plant. Each flower is about 1/8" (3 mm.) across and ¼" long, consisting of a 5-lobed blue corolla, a hairy green calyx with 5 linear-lanceolate teeth, a 4-celled pistil with a single style, and 5 stamens. The hairy pedicels are shorter than the flowers (about 1/8" or 3 mm. in length). The corolla has a small cup-like or funnel shape and it lacks a yellow center. The blooming period occurs from late-spring into the summer and can last several months. Each flower is replaced by 4 small nutlets. This plant spreads by reseeding itself. It can form loose colonies of plants in open areas.
Cultivation: Small-Flowered Forget-Me-Not can be found in full sun to light shade, mesic to dry conditions, and loamy or sandy soil (especially the latter). Where ground vegetation is sparse, it can reseed itself aggressively.
Range & Habitat: This non-native weedy plant is widely scattered in Illinois and uncommon (see Distribution Map). It is more common in the northeast and eastern Great Lakes region. Small-Flowered Forget-Me-Not was accidentally introduced into North America from Eurasia. Habitats include campgrounds and picnic areas in parks, sandy lawns, fields, and waste areas. Disturbed areas are strongly preferred.
Faunal Associations: Little is known about the floral-faunal relationships of this plant and similar species. Small bees and flies probably seek nectar from the flowers, although the latter are capable of self-pollination in their absence. The flea beetle Longitarsus melanurus feeds on this species and other members of the Borage family. The foliage probably isn't very toxic, therefore it may be eaten occasionally by rabbits and other mammalian herbivores.
Photographic Location: A picnic area of a park in Vermilion County, Illinois.
Comments: Small-Flowered Forget-Me-Not is a weedy little plant that is easily overlooked. The tiny flowers are not very showy, unless they are examined up-close. It has smaller flowers (only 1/8" or 3 mm. across) than many other Myosotis spp. (Forget-Me-Not species), and its flowers lack yellow centers. A similar species from Eurasia, Myosotis arvensis (Field Forget-Me-Not), is similar in appearance, but it has flowers with yellow centers and its pedicels are longer than the flowers. Thus far, Field Forget-Me-Not has not been found in Illinois, although it occurs in some eastern states. Another species, Myosotis verna (Spring Forget-Me-Not), has white flowers that are slightly larger in size than those of Small-Flowered Forget-Me-Not.