Forget-me-not flowers are a common site in our countryside flowering from April well into June. Both the wood forget-me-not and the water forget-me-not are native to the UK and globally there are over 50 species within the genus of Myotosis.
Forget-me-not plants belong to the Boraginaceae family which is named after its type plant borage and both are a close relative of comfrey which also exists in this family.
You should recognise this plant as one not to ingest as it contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids which are harmful and found in many members of this family. The reality is you would have to eat an awful lot of the plant for this toxin to build to a harmful level but when our woods and fields are full of so many other non- toxic plants, why take the risk.
Historically the plant was used like so many other healing herbs, crushed and applied to small cuts to slow down bleeding.
The name forget-me-not has many origin stories but the one seeming to be most popular in the UK is about the armoured knight walking with his lover by a river. After falling in he throws a bouquet of this wildflower to his love shouting ‘’Forget-me-not!’’. Possibly this was a happy accident as any knight unbalanced enough to simply walk by a river would not have had much skill during a jousting contest, but I digress.
One sure fire way to know you are dealing with Myotosis sylvatica and not another species is to look closely at the calyx structure which has ever so slightly recurved sepals at their tips.
To find out more about foraging for wild foods you can join me and the team on one of our foraging courses
Adam Logan, Senior Instructor at Woodland Ways.