An expedition to the mountains of the NZ South Island has added two species of forget-me-nots to the flora of the island country.
The forget-me-not is a common name that applies to flowering plants in the genus Myosotis. The name was calqued from the French and first used in English in the 16th century.
The newly discovered species, Myosotis chaffeyorum and Myosotis mooreana, are described in an article published in the journal PhytoKeys.
The expedition led by Dr Carlos Lehnebach, who is a curator at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, was part of a major endeavor by a group of botanists aiming to describe and list all forget-me-nots found in the country.
Dr Lehnebach said the mountains of the South Island is a hotspot for forget-me-nots diversity as over 30 species are found there.
“The diversity of forms, flower color and leaf shape of New Zealand forget-me-nots is really amazing,” he explained.
“New Zealand forget-me-nots are far different from their blue flower relatives commonly found in people’s gardens, and some native species have yellow, pink, or tube-like brown-bronze flowers. New Zealand is also home for the smallest forget-me-not in the world!” Dr Lehnebach said.
These two new species are extremely uncommon. One is currently known from a single spot where only six plants were found. The other species is habitat-specific and it is only found at the base of limestone bluffs.
“Because of the low number of plants and populations currently known for these forget-me-nots, they have been rated as Nationally Critical”, Dr. Lehnebach said. “This is not unusual for New Zealand forget-me-nots, and many of them are currently threatened.”
Bibliographic information: Lehnebach CA. 2012. Two new species of forget-me-nots (Myosotis, Boraginaceae) from New Zealand. PhytoKeys 16: 53–64; doi: 10.3897/phytokeys.16.3602