Your help is appreciated.    We depend on donations to help keep this site free and up to date for you. Can you please help us?


This family contains exactly one genus, Polygala.

See list of 8 species in this genus

References: Gillett (1968), Wheelock (1891).

  • 1a. Leaves few, clustered near the tip of the stem, the blades elliptic to oval; inflorescence with 1–4 flowers that are 13–19 mm long; androecium with 6 stamens; plants perennial from creeping rhizomes
  • 1b. Leaves usually many and spaced throughout the stem, the blades linear to narrow-elliptic or narrow-obovate; inflorescence with many flowers that are 3–6 mm long; androecium with 
7 or 8 stamens; plants annual, biennial, or perennial, but without creeping rhizomes
    • 2a. Chasmogamous (i.e., petaliferous) flowers borne in loose racemes, on spreading or recurving pedicels 1.5–3.5 mm long [Fig. 784]; cleistogamous flowers produced after the chasmogamous flowers, borne on secund, prostrate or shallowly subterranean racemes
    • 2b. Chasmogamous flowers borne in relatively more dense, spike-like racemes, the pedicels up to 1.5 mm long; cleistogamous flowers not produced
      • 3a. Plants perennial, with clustered stems arising from a hard, knotty root; leaf blades (13–) 30–80 ×3–15 (–30) mm, irregularly serrulate
      • 3b. Plants annual, the solitary stems arising from a taproot; leaf blades 10–40 × 
1–5 mm, entire
        • 4a. Wing sepals acuminate to awn-tipped at the apex [Fig. 783], minutely roughened on the adaxial surface; raceme 10–15 (–20) mm thick [Fig. 783]
        • 4b. Wing sepals rounded to obtuse at the apex, not roughened on the adaxial surface; raceme 2–10 (–14) mm thick [Fig. 785]
          • 5a. Leaves 1 at each node; wing sepals 2–5 (–6.3) mm long; racemes blunt at the apex (sometimes apiculate in P. nuttallii due to the flower buds); bracts persistent, each appearing as a minute, upcurved hook, remaining on the raceme axis after the falling of the fruits
          • 5b. Leaves 2–5 at each of the lower nodes (sometimes the upper nodes with only 1 leaf) [Fig. 785]; wing sepals 0.9–2.6 mm long; racemes tapering to a slender point; bracts deciduous from the base of the fruiting raceme, the fallen fruits leaving only a pedicel scar
            • 7a. Wing sepals usually ½ to as long as fruit [Fig. 785]; most nodes (except sometimes the upper) bearing 2–5 leaves; flowers white to pink to purple; 
axis of raceme not or scarcely elongating in fruit, the lowest internode 0.3–1.7 (–3.3) mm long
            • 7b. Wing sepals ± as long as the fruit; most nodes (except the lower ones) bearing a single leaf; flowers predominantly green-white to white; axis 
of raceme elongating in fruit, the lowest internode (1.2–) 2.3–8.4 mm long

Show All Couplets

 Show photos of:   Each photo represents one species in this genus.