Polygala brevifolia


Gen. N. Amer. Pl. 2: 89. 1818.

Common names: Short-leaf milkwort
Treatment appears in FNA Volume 10.

Herbs annual, single-stemmed, 1–4(–6) dm, usually much-branched distally; from slender taproot, sometimes becoming fibrous root cluster. Stems erect, glabrous. Leaves whorled proximally, often alternate distally; sessile or subsessile; blade obovate, oblanceolate, narrowly elliptic, or linear, 10–50 × 1–4(–7) mm, base cuneate, apex acute, obtuse, or rounded, surfaces glabrous. Racemes capitate, 1–3.5 × 1–1.6 cm; peduncle 0.8–5 cm; bracts persistent, narrowly triangular-ovate. Pedicels 0.7–2 mm, glabrous. Flowers purple or pink, wings sometimes green-tinged, sepals often pink, 3.5–4.5 mm; sepals suborbiculate to ovate, 0.8–1.5 mm; wings ovate or ovate-oblong, 3–4.5 × 1.5–2.5 mm, apex acute, short-mucronate; keel 2.8–3.8 mm, crest 2-parted, with 3 or 4 lobes on each side, or lobes entire. Capsules globose or globose-reniform, 2 × 2 mm, margins not winged. Seeds 1.3–1.5 mm, sparsely pubescent; aril 0.8–1.3 mm, lobes 2/3+ length of seed.

Phenology: Flowering summer–fall.
Habitat: Savannas, pocosins, sandy swamps, coastal swales.
Elevation: 0–50 m.


Ala., Fla., Ga., La., Miss., N.J., N.Y., N.C.


Polygala brevifolia is very similar to P. cruciata, from which it is most readily distinguished by the usually much longer peduncle and by the wings acute or slightly acuminate (versus cuspidate). Ecologically, P. brevifolia tends to be more restricted to wetter areas, such as bogs and seeps. Although reported for Maryland, South Carolina, and Virginia, no vouchers are known.

Selected References


Lower Taxa

... more about "Polygala brevifolia"
J. Richard Abbott +
Nuttall +
Short-leaf milkwort +
Ala. +, Fla. +, Ga. +, La. +, Miss. +, N.J. +, N.Y. +  and N.C. +
0–50 m. +
Savannas, pocosins, sandy swamps, coastal swales. +
Flowering summer–fall. +
Gen. N. Amer. Pl. +
Polygala brevifolia +
Polygala +
species +