Wood Forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica), a member of a diminutive genus long prized for its free-seeding, wild character on neglected English country estates.
Numerous temperate Forget-me-nots were imported to Australia in the nineteenth century, often as inexpensive seed packets; freeseeding cultivars remain available in the nursery trade. This ‘Myosotis of the woods’ was called up by one 1870s Australasian columnist as a self-seeding component of English wild gardens then enjoying a resurgence; another noted it as a serviceable spring bedding selection in an 1880 SA Chronicle. Surely establishing on damp town margins, it went uncollected as an unremarkable element of the Australian colonies’ domesticated fringe.
SA’s state herbarium holds a 1917 collection of M. sylvatica made around Mount Gambier’s Leg of Mutton Lake; whether this was a naturalised or cultivated planting of the Forest Nursery is unclear. Where it has appeared later in the 20th c. as a major weed within certain volcanic cones and near-coastal woodlands in Victoria, there is no such doubt.
At Melbourne, a 1941 collection was made at Upper Ferntree Gully, fertile ground for garden escapes, with further records at Mount Dandenong in 1947 and Sherbrooke Forest in 1961. Today the plant’s Victorian distribution is a Venn diagram for high rainfall and cottage garden retreats.
In contrast, the tiny Field Forget-me-not (M. arvensis) is still largely limited to the eastern ranges and perhaps occasional appearances as a metropolitan garden weed. If I haven’t accidentally dropped a photo of M. arvensis into this set for want of a scale card, we’ll get to it eventually I am sure. Neither should M. sylvatica be confused with the Australian native M. australis. The native’s white / yellowish corolla differentiates it from the normal weed varieties but not from ‘alba’ cultivars nor the many-coloured Yellow-and-blue species (M. discolor), another weed of damp montane summer retreats. We’ll try to find that one too.