Polygala cruciata L. - Drum Heads

Polygala cruciata plant

Family - Polygalaceae

Stems:

Polygala cruciata stem

Leaves:

N/A

Inflorescence:

N/A

Flowers:

Polygala cruciata flower

Flowering - June - November.

Habitat - Bogs, savannahs, pocosins, wet meadows.

Origin - Native to North America.

Other information - This little species can be found scattered throughout Alabama but is most common in the southern portion of the state. Plant can be identified by its whorled leaves, short-pedunculate to sessile inflorescences, pinkish-purple to greenish flowers, and abruptly acuminate sepals. The pictures above were taken late in the year and the inflorescences are slightly smaller than normal.
Another species, P. brevifolia Nutt., is similar but the latter has peduncles to 8cm long and the sepals of the flowers are obtuse to acute.
The genus name Polygala derives from the Greek "poly" meaning "much" or "many" and "gala" meaning "milk". This name was given by Dioscorides to a low shrub which was believed to improve lactation.
The species epithet cruciata derives from the Latin "cruci" meaning "a cross" referring to the whorls of 4 leaves at a node for this species.

Alabama Distribution:

Polygala cruciata map

Photographs taken in Conecuh National Forest, AL., 10-23-04.


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