Three species of Aotearoa New Zealand forget-me-nots (Myosotis, Boraginaceae) have been described in a paper by Te Papa Botany Curator Heidi Meudt and her colleague, Jessie Prebble (Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research). Each of these species is endemic to the South Island but has a restricted geographic distribution. Meet the new species below and find out how to recognise them in the field. All three species have also been beautifully illustrated by Bobbi Angell.
Myosotis hikuwai is similar to other small, South Island species that have flowers with bracts, but it is unique in its upright habit (rather than being prostrate, or lying flat against the ground).
Its small flowers and seeds, and leaf coloration, are most similar to those of another spring annual, M. brevis, but its larger calyx size is more like M. glauca and M. antarctica.
Myosotis hikuwai is a spring annual so far known only from one locality near Wānaka, in the Hikuwai Conservation Area (hence the name!). It was first collected in 2013 by Geoff Rogers, who sent the specimens to Te Papa for us to include in our taxonomic studies.
See Bobbi Angell’s illustration of M. hikuwai here.
M. ultramafica is named after the iron- and magnesium-rich ultramafic habitats where it is found in Southland and Otago.
Its inflorescences are short and unbranched, and only some of the flowers and fruits have bracts.
The leaves of M. ultramafica are narrowly obovate or oblanceolate, much longer than wide, and have straight, appressed, parallel hairs.
See Bobbi Angell’s illustration of M. ultramafica here.
M. venticola is found only in high-elevation sites from Otago.
As a tribute to its wind-swept habitats, we named the species M. venticola meaning ‘inhabiting windy areas’.
One of the unique characteristics of this plant is that it has backward-facing hairs not only on the underside of the leaves, but also mixed in with forward-facing hairs on the upper surface!
See Bobbi Angell’s illustration of M. venticola here.
Thank you to Geoff Rogers, Brian Rance, Jessie Prebble, John Barkla and Ngāi Tahu for their contributions to this research and the new species names. Additional thanks to John Barkla, who has uploaded his iNaturalist observations of these species with a CC BY 4.0 Creative Commons license, which means I could reuse them here, with attribution. I acknowledge many other landowners, colleagues and botanical enthusiasts who assisted with the fieldwork to find and document these new species.
Read the published paper here:
Meudt Heidi M., Prebble Jessica M. (2022) Morphological analyses support recognition of three new threatened species of bracteate–prostrate Myosotis (Boraginaceae) endemic to the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand. Australian Systematic Botany 35, 364-394.