In this well-known garden genus, there are more than 50 species, over 30 of them occurring in New Zealand. All of these are endemic with the possible exception of some forms of one species which occur in Australia. Several introduced species are naturalised and of widespread occurrence, particularly M. palustris which is the common European forget-me-not. The New Zealand species do not, in general, possess the deep-blue flowers of this plant. Here the genus is noteworthy for the manner in which it has evolved in contrast to developments elsewhere. The only native species with deep-blue flowers are M. capitata from the islands to the south, and M. antarctica from Campbell Island. Some species have yellow flowers, M. macrantha has bronze flowers, while those of the remaining species are inconspicuous in colour. Many of the species are difficult to identify and several greatly resemble one another in habit and foliage although the flowers differ widely.
M. australis is one of the yellow-flowered species found in the Kaweka Mountains and throughout the South Island. The plant is about a foot high, densely hairy, with spatulate leaves up to 2 in. long. Forms of this species occur in Australia and Tasmania. M. goyenii, also a yellow-flowered plant, is found on dry rocky slopes. M. pulvinaris is a rounded cushion plant in the mountains of Central Otago.
Closely related to the true forget-me-nots is Myosotidium hortensia, the Chatham Island forget-me-not, found naturally only on that island but sometimes cultivated. It is a remarkably handsome perennial plant with rounded, shining, bright-green leaves, 12 in. long. The beautiful dark- and light-blue flowers are half an inch across.
by Alec Lindsay Poole, M.SC., B.FOR.SC., F.R.S.N.Z., Director-General of Forests, Wellington.