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Myosurus minimus

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
15 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, meadows, riverbanks, roadsides, water, waterside, wetland.

Green, 5 petals
Yellowish-green tubular flowers, 6 to 8mm in length. Flowers appear solitary on long, leafless stalks of up to 7cm long. The flowers are produced inside a plantain-like head. The petals are up to 3mm long. 10 stamens per flower.
The fruit is a long, flat, brown achene.
A low growing annual plant with threadlike or grass-like leaves, up to 6cm long.
Other Names:
Dwarf Mousetail, Least Mousetail, Little Mousetail, Tiny Mousetail.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Myosurus minimus, also known as dwarf mousetail or least mousetail, is a small perennial herb that is native to North America and Europe. It is a member of the Ranunculaceae family and has small, white, cup-shaped flowers that bloom in the spring. The leaves are narrow and grass-like, and the plant typically grows to be about 4-6 inches tall. Myosurus minimus prefers moist, well-drained soils and can be found in meadows, wetlands, and along stream banks. It is considered an endangered species in some areas and is protected by law in some states.


Mousetail, scientifically known as Myosurus minimus, is a small and delicate plant that belongs to the family Ranunculaceae. It is also commonly known as dwarf mousetail or little mousetail due to its small size and the shape of its inflorescence that resembles a mouse's tail.

Mousetail is native to North America and can be found growing in moist and shady areas such as meadows, wetlands, and stream banks. It is an annual plant that grows up to 15 centimeters tall with small and narrow leaves that are deeply divided into three segments.

One of the most distinctive features of Mousetail is its inflorescence. The flowers are tiny and arranged in a cylindrical or cone-shaped structure that resembles a mouse's tail, hence the name. The flowers are greenish-yellow or white in color and bloom from April to June.

Mousetail is an important plant in its ecosystem as it provides food and habitat for a variety of insects such as bees, butterflies, and moths. The plant relies on these insects for pollination as it produces no nectar. Instead, it produces small amounts of pollen that the insects feed on while they visit the flowers.

Mousetail has also been used for medicinal purposes by Native Americans. The plant was used to treat a variety of ailments such as headaches, fever, and stomach problems. The leaves were crushed and used as a poultice to treat skin irritations and sores.

In terms of cultivation, Mousetail is not commonly grown in gardens as it is a delicate plant that requires specific growing conditions. However, it can be grown in moist and shady areas with rich, well-draining soil. It is also important to ensure that the plant is not exposed to direct sunlight as this can cause the plant to dry out and wither.

Mousetail is a plant that has been known to be used for various purposes by different cultures throughout history. In addition to its medicinal properties, it has also been used for decorative purposes. Its small size and unique inflorescence make it a popular choice for terrariums, miniature gardens, and rock gardens.

The plant is also valued for its ability to prevent erosion. Its shallow roots and low-growing habit make it ideal for stabilizing soil on slopes and hillsides. This makes it a valuable addition to restoration projects for wetlands and other ecosystems that are prone to erosion.

Mousetail is also an excellent plant for educational purposes. Its small size and unique shape make it a fascinating plant for children to study and learn about. It can be used to teach children about pollination and the important role that insects play in the ecosystem.

In recent years, there has been growing interest in native plants and their role in supporting local ecosystems. Mousetail is a plant that is well-suited to this trend. It is a native plant that provides food and habitat for local insects and other wildlife. By incorporating Mousetail into gardens and restoration projects, individuals can help to support local ecosystems and promote biodiversity.

Mousetail is a plant that has adapted to thrive in moist and shady environments. It can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, including acidic, alkaline, and nutrient-poor soils. This makes it a hardy plant that can grow in a variety of habitats.

One interesting aspect of Mousetail is its relationship with fire. In areas where fires occur naturally, Mousetail is known to thrive after the fire has passed. This is because the plant is adapted to take advantage of the nutrients released by the fire. In fact, some species of Mousetail have been known to bloom more abundantly after a fire.

Another interesting aspect of Mousetail is its role in plant ecology. Mousetail is a pioneer species, meaning that it is one of the first plants to colonize an area after a disturbance such as a fire or flood. As a pioneer species, Mousetail plays an important role in the process of succession, which is the gradual process of plant communities changing over time.

Mousetail is also a useful plant for conservation purposes. In many areas, the natural habitat of Mousetail has been disturbed or destroyed by human activity. By incorporating Mousetail into restoration projects, individuals can help to recreate natural habitats for this important plant and the wildlife that depend on it.

Mousetail is a plant that has inspired artists and writers throughout history. Its delicate beauty and unique shape have been depicted in paintings, drawings, and literature. By appreciating the beauty and importance of Mousetail, we can gain a deeper understanding of the natural world and our role in protecting it.

One of the challenges facing Mousetail and other native plant species is habitat loss due to human activity. As wetlands and other natural areas are developed or altered for human use, the habitats that Mousetail depends on are threatened. This can have a ripple effect on the ecosystem, as other plants and animals that depend on Mousetail are also impacted.

To combat habitat loss and promote the conservation of Mousetail and other native plant species, many organizations and individuals are working to establish and protect natural areas. Wetland restoration projects, conservation easements, and land trusts are just a few examples of efforts to protect natural habitats and promote biodiversity.

In addition to its ecological importance, Mousetail is also a plant that has cultural significance for many indigenous communities. For example, the Cherokee Nation has traditionally used Mousetail to treat eye infections and other ailments. By promoting the conservation and protection of Mousetail, we can also honor the cultural and spiritual significance of this important plant.

Another important aspect of Mousetail is its potential for use in sustainable agriculture. Some research has suggested that Mousetail may have allelopathic effects, meaning that it can release chemicals that inhibit the growth of other plants. This could be useful in agriculture as a natural way to control weeds and reduce the need for synthetic herbicides.

In conclusion, Mousetail is a plant that is much more than its small size suggests. Its ecological importance, cultural significance, and potential for use in sustainable agriculture make it an interesting and valuable plant to study and appreciate. By promoting the conservation and protection of Mousetail and other native plant species, we can help to support local ecosystems, honor cultural traditions, and promote a more sustainable future.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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