Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Racemed Milkwort - Senega polygama   (Walter) J.F.B. Pastore & J.R. Abbott
Members of Polygalaceae:
Members of Senega with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Family Polygalaceae
Author(Walter) J.F.B. Pastore & J.R. Abbott
DistributionPresent in much of the Mountains, mostly the southern portions, and then sparingly eastward into the west-central Coastal Plain (to Johnston and Sampson counties).

This species has a very odd distribution, with many large gaps. It occurs from ME and MN south to southern FL and eastern TX, but is mostly absent in the middle reaches.
AbundanceInfrequent, rarely locally fairly common, in the southern Mountains and southwestern Piedmont, east to Catawba and Cleveland counties. Rare and likely declining in the western Coastal Plain. Very rare in the northern Piedmont, and seemingly absent from the northern Mountains, despite being within the overall range.
HabitatThis is a species of dry or mesic, partly shaded places. It grows along wooded borders, openings in upland forests, in Sandhills woodlands, and other upland sites.
PhenologyBlooms from May to July, and fruits from June to July.
IdentificationThis is a species with usually several erect stems or branches emanating from a taproot, thus looking a bit clustered, with stems to about 1.5 feet tall. Each stem is very leafy (for a Senega), with numerous alternate and generally ascending leaves that are narrowly oblanceolate, rounded at the tip, and about 1.5 inches long and much narrower. Topping each stem is a narrow raceme, about 2 inches long and much narrower, with the many rose-pink flowers not overly crowded along the axis (i.e., essentially countable). This is a rather obvious species when in bloom, owing to the rosy spires, especially as several stems may grow together and thus it can occur in moderate patches.
Taxonomic CommentsDespite a large range and some authors listing two varieties, Weakley (2018) chooses not to do so.

All of the former Polygala species in NC have now been moved to the genus Senega in 2023.
Other Common Name(s)Purple Milkwort
State RankS2S3 [S3]
Global RankG5
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US Status
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B. BeckSandhills Game Land, Richmond County, 2018. RichmondPhoto_natural
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