Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Maryland Milkwort - Polygala mariana   P. Miller
Members of Polygalaceae:
Members of Polygala with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Polygalales » Family Polygalaceae
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AuthorP. Miller
DistributionThroughout the Coastal Plain, though very rare in some far eastern counties. Montgomery County specimens from the adjacent Piedmont need to have ID checked vs. P. curtissii.

This is mainly a Coastal Plain species, ranging from Long Island, NY, and south to northern FL and west to eastern TX. It also ranges unland to parts of TN and KY.
AbundanceFrequent to common over nearly all of the Coastal Plain, but rare in the far eastern counties, and uncommon in the western Sandhills region.
HabitatThis is a species of wetlands of a great variety of habitats, many in disturbed ground and is by no means limited to high-quality habitats such as pine savannas and flatwoods. It also grows in ditches, damp clearings, and in other damp and often sandy ground -- typically in acidic soils and near pinelands.
PhenologyBlooms from June to October, and fruits soon after flowering.
IdentificationThis is the Coastal Plain "counterpart" to P. curtissii, a species of the Piedmont and mountains. Each grows with a slender stem to about 8-9 inches tall, with a few branches in the upper portions. The alternate leaves are linear or the lower ones narrowly spatulate, about 3/4-inch long. The flower heads at the ends of the branches are fairly small and rounded to conical, about 3/4-inch long at most, with rose to pink flowers. In this species, when a flower is spent (from the bottom up to the top), each bract quickly drops, so that the stem or peduncle below the remaining flower head is smooth; in P. curtissii, the bracts remain in place, such that below the remaining flowers the stem or peduncle is scaly-looking. As with the other species, you probably need to use the range and habitat to assist you to separate these -- each of which is reasonably common in its part of the state. P. nuttallii does overlap its range somewhat, but that uncommon species has more spire-like flower clusters, several times taller than wide.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)None
State RankS4 [S5]
Global RankG5
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