Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Fringed Polygala - Polygaloides paucifolia  
Members of Polygalaceae:
Only member of Polygaloides in NC.
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Section 6 » Family Polygalaceae
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DistributionPresent over most of the northern Mountains, south to Yancey and Burke counties; but scarce and local in the southern Mountains.

This is a Northern species ranging from southern Canada, south to CT and WI, and then in the Appalachians to northern GA.
AbundanceUncommon and somewhat local in the northern Mountains, and rare and local in the southern portions. The NCNHP formerly had the species on its Watch List and probably still should do so, though the website editors feel that populations are well known, with few others to be located.
HabitatThis is an oddly localized species, for reasons not obvious, considering its reasonably common habitats. It grows at middle and high elevations in thin soil, often in rocky forests, glades, and forest openings. At a few places it grows on circumneutral soils, such as in Clay County, but most sites seem to be in acidic soils.
See also Habitat Account for Montane Rock Barrens
PhenologyBlooms from April to June, and fruits from June to September.
IdentificationThough hardly numerous in the NC mountains, when encountered in bloom it cannot fail to be noticed. It has a very short stem, often reaching only 3-6 inches high. Lower leaves are bract-like and hardly noticeable, but the few stem leaves are near the top of the short stem, and these are thick, dark green, widely elliptic, and about 1.2 inches long and not quite as wide. The leaves are shiny and almost appear to be evergreen. Just above these leaves grow only about 2-3 quite odd yet large deep rose flowers, consisting of a corolla tube (with a bushy tip) and single flaring petals to each side, each quite rounded. Each flower averages about 1-1.5 inches wide, quite "large" for the dwarf stature of the plant. Not surprisingly, many to most recent references have pulled the species out of Polygala into the genus Polygaloides.
Taxonomic CommentsSee Identification.

Other Common Name(s)Gay-wings, Bird-on-the-wing, Flowering Wintergreen
State RankS2
Global RankG5
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USACE-empFACU link
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