Polygala verticillata L.

Polygala verticillata plant

Family - Polygalaceae

Stems - To +20cm tall, erect, single from the base, from a small taproot, herbaceous, dichotomously branching, purplish near the base, 4-angled, glabrous.

Leaves - At least the most basal sets whorled, all leaves sessile, glabrous, entire, acute, linear-lanceolate, with single costa, to +/-2.5cm long, +4mm broad. Upper leaves reduced to bracts by the inflorescence.

Polygala verticillata leaves

Inflorescence - Terminal and lateral indeterminate racemes, to +2cm long, 5mm in diameter. Pedicels to .6mm long. Pedicels and axis glabrous.

Flowers - Petals 3, united into a 3-lobed tube, folded around the pistil and stamens, purplish at the apex. The middle lobe fringed (with 5 fringes). Stamens minute, 6-8, adnate to the corolla tube, in two rows. Anthers yellow. Ovary superior, green, subglobose to compressed, glabrous, 1mm long, 2-locular, 2-ovuled. Sepals 5, unequal. The uppermost sepal to 1mm long, green, acute. The lower 2 sepals -1mm long, with a purple midvein, acute. The lateral 2 sepals ovate, whitish-green, with a purple midvein, to 1.5mm long. Capsules to +2mm long. Seeds black, pilosulous, to +2mm long.

Polygala verticillata flowers

Flowering - May - October.

Habitat - Rocky glades, prairies, open woods, fallow fields, eroded open slopes, upland flats, typically in acid soils.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This little species can be found scattered throughout Missouri. This is an easy species to overlook in the field as it is small and non-distinct.
Steyermark breaks the Missouri material into 5 varieties based on leaf arrangement and size, inflorescence size, flower color, and branch arrangement. The variety described above is most likely variety isocycla Fern., which is the most common variety found in Missouri. Some varieties integrate but others are more readily separated. I won't go into the rest of the varieties here.

Photographs taken at the Peck Ranch Wildlife Refuge, Oregon County, MO., 7-12-03.


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