Myosurus minimus (NL: Muizenstaart / EN: Tiny mousetail)
This odd-looking little plant, generally growing in moist habitats such as riverbanks and wet meadows, is easily overlooked and often omitted from many wildflower and weed guides. Myosurus minimus superficially resembles a plantain (Plantago sp.) with narrow leaves, but it belongs to a very different family of plants (Ranunculaceae). Other species of plants in this family are quite distinct in appearance because of their showier petals, wider leaves, and/or shorter ovaries. As a result, Myosurus minimus is easy to identify once one becomes familiar with it. This little plant is a winter or spring annual, producing a rosette of basal leaves and one or more flowering stalks. Individual basal leaves are up to 6 cm. long and about 5 mm. across; they are medium green, linear in shape, glabrous, and smooth along their margins. The tips of the basal leaves are blunt. Each flowering stalk is up to 12 cm. long and unbranched; it is usually naked, except for a single flower at its apex. Each stalk is medium green, glabrous, and terete. Each flower consists of 5 petals, 5 sepals, 5-10 stamens, and an elongated ovary that becomes up to 4 cm. long at maturity. The sepals are located at the very bottom of the flower; individual sepals are about 3 mm. long, whitish green, widely spreading, and lanceolate-oblong in shape. In addition to its upper portion, each sepal has a spur-like extension that is narrowly triangular in shape and extends downward. Individual petals are about 5 mm. long, yellowish green, linear in shape, and bent downward and outward toward the middle. There is a nectary located at either the apex of each petal or its base. The cylindrical ovary consists of numerous pistils; it is usually green, although sometimes red toward its apex in sunny situations.
In Belgium this species is on the red list stated rare in the north of the country and critically endangered in the south of the country.
Image: Lier (BE) - 13/04/2011
© Johan Dierckx
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