Forger-me-notBotanical name: Brunnera macrophylla/Anchusa...


March 02, 1991|By Amalie Adler Ascher


Botanical name: Brunnera macrophylla/Anchusa myosotidiflora

Pronunciation: BRUNN-er-a

Common name: Heartleaf Brunnera

Family: Boraginaceae (Borage)

Origin:The Caucasus, Siberia

Class:Hardy perennial

Display period: April, May

Height: 12 to 18 inches

Environment:Partial shade The parting gesture of a --ing knight is said to have given the forget-me-not its name. As he prepared to leave for battle, his sweetheart bid him gather her a bunch of blue flowers from a nearby lake. In stopping to pick them, the warrior tripped and fell. As he drew his last breath, he flung the bouquet at his ladylove and cried, "forget me not."

The true forget-me-not is Myosotis scorpioides. A near relative, whose flowers are practically the same, is Brunnera macrophylla, and it's that plant I'm enamored of. At first, Brunnera was known as Anchusa myosotidiflora or forget-me-not Anchusa. Even now, you'll find the plant listed in books and catalogs under both names. Later, it was decided that the plant belonged to the genus Brunnera and it was reclassified.

Brunnera takes its name from Samuel Brunner, a Swiss botanist who lived from 1790 to 1844. Its appeal is twofold: the delicate light blue blossoms -- the true-blue color rare in the plant kingdom -- are captivating, their brilliance out of all proportion to their tiny size. The leaves, by contrast, appear strong and bold, their configuration heart-shaped, their texture coarse as an elephant's hide. (The plant's species name, macrophylla, indicates the largeness of the leaves.) In late May, when the flowers fade, the foliage carries on through the summer.

Some references say Brunnera "thrives best in deep, moist soil." In my garden, it received no such pampering, and yet it popped up relentlessly season after season, colonizing and even enduring dryness now and then. When we sold the house, 37 years after acquiring it, the same Brunneras originally residing were still going strong.

In my yard, they nestled as ground cover among small trees and shrubs. They also made themselves at home in a setting that was more woodsy. Plants re-seed or can be propagated by division or root cuttings.

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