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Jepson Interchange (more information)
©Copyright 1993 by the Regents of the University of California

  • Up-to-date information about California vascular plants is available from the Jepson eFlora.



Annual, perennial herb, shrubs, generally bristly or sharply hairy
Stem prostrate to erect
Leaves cauline, often with basal rosette, generally simple, alternate; lower sometimes opposite, entire
Inflorescence: cyme, generally elongate, panicle-, raceme- or spike-like, coiled in flower, generally uncoiled in fruit or flowers 1–2 per axil
Flowers generally bisexual, generally radial; sepals 5, free or fused in lower half; corolla 5-lobed, generally salverform, top of tube generally appendaged, appendages 5, alternating with stamens, sometimes arching over tube; stamens 5, epipetalous; ovary superior, generally 4-lobed, style generally entire
Fruit: nutlets 1–4, smooth to variously roughened, sometimes prickly or bristled
Genera in family: ± 100 genera, ± 2000 species: tropical, temp, especially w North America, Medit; some cultivated (Borago, Echium, Myosotis, Symphytum ). Almost all genera may be TOXIC from alkaloids or accumulated nitrates
Recent taxonomic note: Recently treated to include Hydrophyllaceae [Olmsted et al. 2000 Mol Phylog Evol 16:96–112]
Family description, key to genera by Timothy C. Messick.



Elaine Joyal

Annual or perennial herb, glabrous to rough-hairy; roots generally diffuse
Stem decumbent to erect
Leaves: basal generally oblong or oblanceolate; cauline generally linear to elliptic
Inflorescence coiled, generally raceme-like, eventually ± open; bracts 0 (or leaf-like in lower half); flowers generally in upper half of plant
Flower: calyx lobes 5, generally ± equal; corolla salverform or widely funnel-shaped, white, yellow, or generally blue, tube 5-appendaged at top, limb abruptly spreading, 5-lobed; stamens 5, included; style generally included
Fruit: nutlets smooth, shiny, each with raised outer margin, scar lateral, at base, small
Species in genus: 50 species: temp, boreal
Etymology: (Greek: mouse ear, from leaf)
Reference: [Grau 1964 Osterr Bot Zeitschr 111:561–617]
Generally flowers in spring.


M. micrantha Lehm.

Annual or winter annual
Stem < 2 dm, simple or branched from near base, ± puberulent or rough-hairy
Leaves generally < 2 cm, 7 mm wide; hairs on lower surface hooked, especially along midrib; basal oblanceolate or wider; cauline oblong or elliptic
Inflorescence bracted in lower half; pedicel in fruit ascending or ± spreading, << calyx; flowers from near plant base, where 1 per axil
Flower: calyx 3–5 mm, strigose at least above, tube hairs spreading, hooked; corolla blue, limb 1–2 mm diam, not completely flat
Fruit >> style, brown, sometimes paler
Chromosomes: 2n=±36–40
Ecology: Uncommon. Roadsides, streambanks, disturbed open places
Elevation: 500–1000 m.
Bioregional distribution: Klamath Ranges (1 locality in Siskiyou Co.)
Distribution outside California: n US, s Canada, native to Eurasia
Other taxa often misidentified as this in CA.

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