Polygala sanguinea L.

Polygala sanguinea plant

Family - Polygalaceae

Stems - To +40cm tall, herbaceous, from branching roots, glabrous, erect, simple or branching above, carinate to 4-angled near apex.

Leaves - Alternate, linear to linear-elliptic, sessile or very short-petiolate (petiole to -1mm), glabrous, entire, to 3cm long, 2-5mm broad.

Polygala sanguinea leaves

Inflorescence - Terminal compact raceme to 2cm tall(long), 1cm in diameter. Pedicels to 1mm long.

Flowers - Petals 3, united into a tube, pinkish to whitish or greenish. Stamens 8, slightly exserted beyond corolla, minute, connate and united with corolla tube. Anthers yellow. Style green, 1mm long, glabrous. Ovary superior, green, 2-locular. Sepals 5, the inner 2 enlarged and colored like the petals, to 5mm long, 3mm broad, with green midvein.

Polygala sanguinea flowersFlowers close-up.

Flowering - May - October.

Habitat - Prairies, meadows, fields, glades.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This is a common plant in prairies and it is found throughout most of Missouri. The plant is unmistakable in the field. The flowers are irregular and the noticeable colorful portion is actually the enlarged sepals.
Certain species of the genus Polygala have been used traditionally as medicinal treatments for many ailments. The plants contain saponins and, commonly, calcium oxalate crystals.

Photographs taken at Taberville Prairie, MO., 6-7-03, and at Bethel Prairie, MO., 7-4-03.