Welcome! Today we are going to discuss Fringed Polygala (Polygaloides paucifolia). Fringed Polygala is part of the Milkwort family of plants. The plant’s wetland indicator status is FACU which means that while the it is usually found in uplands it may be found in freshwater wetlands on occasion. The ‘Gala’ in ‘Polygala’ means “milk” in Greek. It was once thought that Cows that ate Fringed Polygala would produce more milk.
The egg shaped leaves are evergreen and turn bronze red in winter. Fringed Polygala is perennial and grows from 3-6 inches above the forest floor. The plant is associated both with hardwoods and conifers (I have seen it growing in both environments). It does well with moist soil. You may find it growing in beds of moss. Fringed Polygala thrives in undisturbed forests.
Fringed Polygala blooms between May and June every year. The pink to purple flowers sort of look like either an airplane without a tail or an exotic bird (also without a tail) and are pollinated by bees. The flower also superficially resembles a tiny orchid.
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