Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Taxon of the Day! (14 April 2010)

Myosotis alpestris - Alpine Forget-Me-Not
Last member of the Boraginaceae for awhile, I promise. 

Myosotis is most diverse in Western Eurasia (around 60 species occur there), but is also quite speciose in New Zealand's alpine habitats (with a not-too-shabby 35 species). Phylogenetic analysis (Winkworth 2002) and palynology (Raven (1973) both support a Eurasian origin for the genus, with isolated long-distance dispersal events to New Zealand.

The color and shape of these flowers are very typical for species in the genus Myosotis (meaning mouse-ear, in reference to the shape of the leaves).

California has one (or two) native Myosotis, depending on which reference you're using:  M. laxa, and M. verna according to the Jepson Manual. However, California also hosts up to 7 other species of Myosotis, the most common and conspicous being M. latifolia, the broadleaf Forget-Me-Not.

I took the above and following photos of M. alpestris in August 2009 along the Eigergletscher Trail, near Alpiglen (a very small town in Switzerland's mountainous Canton of Bern).                                                    
I found M. alpestris (and many other fascinating wildflowers) inhabiting the very upper reaches of the alpine zone, along the edge of steep scree:

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