Polygala cruciata


Sp. Pl. 2: 706. 1753.

Common names: Drumheads
Synonyms: Polygala aquilonia (Fernald & B. G. Schubert) Sorrie & Weakley P. cruciata subsp. aquilonia (Fernald & B. G. Schubert) A. Haines P. cruciata var. aquilonia Fernald & B. G. Schubert P. ramosior (Nash ex B. L. Robinson) Small
Treatment appears in FNA Volume 10.

Herbs annual, single-stemmed, (0.5–)1–3(–5) dm, usually branched distally; from slender taproot. Stems erect, usually glabrous, rarely subglabrous. Leaves whorled, sometimes alternate distally; sessile or subsessile, or with narrow petiolelike base to 2 mm; blade mostly linear, to oblanceolate, spatulate, obovate, or narrowly elliptic, especially proximally, 8–35(–50) × 1–5(–7) mm, base cuneate to acute, apex rounded to obtuse or acute, surfaces glabrous. Racemes capitate to densely cylindric, 1–3.5(–6) × 1–1.7 cm; peduncle 0.5–3(–5) cm; bracts persistent, narrowly lanceolate-ovate. Pedicels 2–2.4 mm, glabrous. Flowers usually purple or pink, rarely white, wings and distal keel sometimes green-tinged, sepals often pink, 4–6 mm; sepals ovate, 0.8–1.5 mm, sometimes ciliolate; wings ovate to deltate, 3.5–6 × 2.7–4 mm, apex acuminate, often strongly cuspidate; keel 2.8–3.5 mm, crest 2-parted, with 2 or 3 entire or 2-fid lobes on each side. Capsules with winged, stipelike base, strongly oblique, subglobose, 2–2.5 × 1.8–2.1 mm, margins not winged. Seeds 1.1–1.5 mm, short-pubescent; aril 0.9–1.1 mm, lobes usually 2/3+ length of seed, rarely shorter or absent. 2n = 36, 40.

Phenology: Flowering spring–fall.
Habitat: Wet meadows, marshes, savannas, bogs, pocosins, sand dunes.
Elevation: 0–500 m.


Ala., Ark., Conn., Del., D.C., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Ky., La., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Okla., Pa., R.I., S.C., Tenn., Tex., Va., W.Va., Wis.


Polygalacruciata var. aquilonia is usually a more northern form with broader leaf blades, shorter peduncles, narrower racemes, and more abruptly short-acuminate wing apices (versus strongly cuspidate and acuminate) than the more southern var. cruciata. Extreme forms can appear distinctive. However, in the absence of detailed populational study, these traditionally recognized varieties of P. cruciata do not merit taxonomical recognition at any rank. This species was known from Ontario but appears to be extirpated from Canada.

Selected References


Lower Taxa

... more about "Polygala cruciata"
J. Richard Abbott +
Linnaeus +
Drumheads +
Ala. +, Ark. +, Conn. +, Del. +, D.C. +, Fla. +, Ga. +, Ill. +, Ind. +, Iowa +, Ky. +, La. +, Maine +, Md. +, Mass. +, Mich. +, Minn. +, Miss. +, N.H. +, N.J. +, N.Y. +, N.C. +, Ohio +, Okla. +, Pa. +, R.I. +, S.C. +, Tenn. +, Tex. +, Va. +, W.Va. +  and Wis. +
0–500 m. +
Wet meadows, marshes, savannas, bogs, pocosins, sand dunes. +
Flowering spring–fall. +
Polygala aquilonia +, P. cruciata subsp. aquilonia +, P. cruciata var. aquilonia +  and P. ramosior +
Polygala cruciata +
Polygala +
species +