Plants in the Wild

Mystery Plant Alert

Little did I know when I grabbed this shot that it would end up making me nuts.

So far, two esteemed colleagues have offered two different opinions about what this native NW perennial is: a forget-me-not relative (think blue) or a composite (think generic yellow daisy). I'm skeptical that these buds will open to yellow; admittedly my first thought was a kind of borage, but now I'm convinced it's not. Can you help?

tight buds and mottled leaves

So very promising in bud, possibly uninteresting in flower, but it's likely I'll never find it again when I return to this wildflower preserve. What is it? photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR



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Hi Ketzel! It looks like Cynoglossum grande (with a bad case of frost damage). That would be hounds-tongue (in Greek, cynos=dog/glossa=tongue). (Of course you'd love it!) I was dazzled 15 years ago when I first saw those magical bright blue flowers and big, fleshy leaves - went half mad trying to find out what they were. Those were the pre-computer days... Here's an image - do you think this is it?

Sent by kate bryant | 4:31 PM | 4-9-2008

salvia lyrata?

Sent by April | 5:05 PM | 4-9-2008

My guess about your Mystery Plant is Cynoglossum grande

Sent by Jack Turner | 5:08 PM | 4-9-2008

Maybe it is red orach...

Sent by Judy Russell | 5:37 PM | 4-9-2008

I would be able to help more if I got a better view of the leaves. Are there other photos of these?

Sent by Stefan Little | 5:38 PM | 4-9-2008

Something about the leaves says mint family to me, the rosette of leaves look a lot like some kind of salvia or even ajuga, but the flower buds don't fit. Was it in a big patch like something that spreads by runners or isolated, sun or shade?

Sent by andrea | 6:01 PM | 4-9-2008

Well done, gang. Cynoglossum or native forget-me-not it is, though not a Myosotis as my colleague had suggested. At first I was thrown off by the green leaves in your link, Kate, but on another website, I read this:

...this woodland species emerges with bronze leaves which presumably give the common name, then forms tall brilliant blue flowers in March...

That explains the leaves. (You explained the name origin better). And this explains its absence from ornamental horticulture:

The deep roots make this rare in the nursery trade.

Sent by Ketzel Levine | 6:03 PM | 4-9-2008

Not a typical nursery plant, but there are sources from native plant groups if you are really taken with this one.


Sent by Stefan Little | 12:58 PM | 4-10-2008