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Polygala paucifolia

Polygala paucifolia Willd.

Triclisperma paucifolia (Willd.) Nieuwl.

Fringed Polygala, Gaywings, Fringed Milkwort

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderPolygalalesIncludes milkwort, krameria, and Barbados cherry families
FamilyPolygalaceaeMilkwort family. Also called Diclidantheraceae, Moutabeaceae, Xanthophyllaceae)
GenusPolygalaFrom Greek polys, “many or much,” and gala, “milk,” since some of these species were believed to increase milk yields in cattle
SpeciespaucifoliaWith little foliage, literally “few-leaved”

About plant names...

Fringed polygala is a North American native plant. Polygala means “much milk,” a reference to fringed polygala’s reputed ability to stimulate the production of milk in people and other mammals. Here is an excellent comparison of the Polygala genus.

Identification: When I first noticed these tiny but colorful flowers, I thought they must be violets, which were also in bloom. But these flowers have a fringed center and two large opposing petals (hence the name “gaywings”). They are more magenta in color than violet. Plants are less than 6" (15 cm) in height, with flowers about ¾-1" (1.9-2.5 cm) in size.

Online References:

Polygala paucifolia at the U.S. Forest Service Celebrating Wildflowers site

Polygala paucifolia on Ontario Wildflowers

Polygala paucifolia on Henriette’s Herbal Homepage

Polygala paucifolia on CalPhotos

Polygala paucifolia on the Connecticut Botanical Society's Connecticut wildflowers site

Polygala paucifolia at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Polygala paucifolia (Fringed Polygala, Gaywings, Fringed Milkwort)

7/7/2017 · Beaver Brook Association Conservation Lands, Rte. 130, Hollis, NH

Polygala paucifolia (Fringed Polygala, Gaywings, Fringed Milkwort)

5/5/2016 · Wildflower Trail, Beaver Brook Conservation Area, Hollis, NH

Polygala paucifolia (Fringed Polygala, Gaywings, Fringed Milkwort)

5/14/2013 · Beaver Brook Assn Conservation Lands, Rte. 130, Hollis, NH
≈ 11 × 7" (26 × 17 cm)

Polygala paucifolia (Fringed Polygala, Gaywings, Fringed Milkwort)

5/20/2014 · Beaver Brook Assn Conservation Lands, Rte. 130, Hollis, NH
≈ 7 × 4½" (16 × 11 cm)

Polygala paucifolia (Fringed Polygala, Gaywings, Fringed Milkwort)

5/14/2010 · Beaver Brook Association Conservation Lands, Rte. 130, Hollis, NH
≈ 4 × 4" (10 × 9.9 cm)

Polygala paucifolia description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 30 May 2016.

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Polygala paucifolia (Fringed Polygala, Gaywings, Fringed Milkwort)

5/12/2016 · Wildlife Pond Trail, Beaver Brook Association, Hollis, NH

Polygala paucifolia (Fringed Polygala, Gaywings, Fringed Milkwort)

5/20/2014 · Beaver Brook Assn Conservation Lands, Rte. 130, Hollis, NH
≈ 8 × 6" (20 × 14 cm)

Polygala paucifolia (Fringed Polygala, Gaywings, Fringed Milkwort)

6/15/1979 · VA · By Tim Chandler ID is uncertain

Polygala paucifolia (Fringed Polygala, Gaywings, Fringed Milkwort)

5/21/2013 · Beaver Brook Assn Conservation Lands, Rte. 130, Hollis, NH
≈ 6 × 5" (14 × 12 cm)

Polygala paucifolia (Fringed Polygala, Gaywings, Fringed Milkwort)

5/14/2013 · Beaver Brook Assn Conservation Lands, Rte. 130, Hollis, NH
≈ 3½ × 2½" (8.6 × 7.2 cm)

Polygala paucifolia (Fringed Polygala, Gaywings, Fringed Milkwort)

5/5/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Pepperell, MA
≈ 3 × 2½" (8.4 × 6.4 cm)

Polygala paucifolia (Fringed Polygala, Gaywings, Fringed Milkwort)

5/12/2016 · Wildlife Pond Trail, Beaver Brook Association, Hollis, NH

Polygala paucifolia (Fringed Polygala, Gaywings, Fringed Milkwort)

5/17/2016 · Worcester Road Trails, Beaver Brook Conservation Area, Hollis, NH

Range: Zones 5-7:

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