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Forget-me-nots (myosotis spp.) are a well known European flower, but did you know there are Ontario native varieties of this edible and medicinal plant?
The nonnative field forget-me-not (m. arvensis) was uncommon when Haliburton Flora was compiled, and may be found in damp ditches and open sandy areas. Back then, European forget-me-not (m. scorpioides) was also spotted, on a damp grassy area beside a lake on hummus topsoil over sand. You’re more likely to spot the “European” species now that its gained popularity, most often in yards where the seeds were purposefully sown at some point in recent decades. The seeds can last dormant for at least 30 years!
Edible Uses of Forget-me-nots
While the flowers are edible, they don’t have much flavour. You can use them for candied blossoms or to add colour to any dish or baked goods. They contain a mild toxin called pyrrolizidine and for that reason should be consumed in moderation. M. sylvatica may be the most edible variety.
Medicinal Uses of Forget-me-nots
Forget-me-nots are primarily said to support these body systems:
Medicinal tags include Astringent and Expectorant. See Medicinal tag key for more information.
Common usage includes in a cough syrup for conditions like chronic bronchitis. That is, at least for the species listed in Haliburton Flora (m. arvensis, m. scorpioides).
Like the name scorpion grass hints at, its also used as a poultice for insect stings and some species see use for skin washes and lotions.
Growing Myosotis SPP.
Of course the ones you see handed out for free are nonnative and invasive. I could see that changing as the word on the importance of native plants continues to spread.
But there is some good news for lovers of these little blue flowers – Ontario has native myosotis! Three are native to Ontario: early (m. verna), big-seeded scorpion srass (m. macrosperma), and small (m. laxa). They flower in white or blue. Smaller bees and butterflies will visit them. Alternatives, if you can’t find the native forget-me-not, are native hepatica and phloxes.
In some places the nonnative species have been banned. The seeds can sit in the soil for up to 30 years generating at random. That’s what makes them unforgettable.
Consume in moderation and avoid consuming for a prolonged period of time.
And the Usual Cautions:
1) Most medicinal herbs, if edible, are meant to be eaten in moderation, even sparingly. Some require extra preparation.
2) People can be allergic or sensitive to nearly any plant; try new herbs one at a time at your own risk.
3) For medicinal use, I must recommend receiving a diagnosis and working with a reputed health care provider. I generally do not post specific treatments and dosages because I think that is best between you and your health care provider, and ideally monitored.
4) Anyone pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription drugs should talk to a health care professional before adding new food items to their diet.
5) Many plants have look-a-likes, and sometimes they are poisonous.
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