Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Seneca Snakeroot - Polygala senega   L.
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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DistributionPresent over most of the Mountains, and scattered over most of the Piedmont, east to Granville, Wake, and Montgomery counties.

This is a somewhat Northern species, ranging from southern Canada south to SC and OK.
AbundanceDeclining in recent decades, for unknown reasons. Now mostly uncommon in the Mountains, and rare in the Piedmont. This is a State Special Concern species.
HabitatThis is a species of dry to mesic, circumneutral soil, usually in partial sun. It grows in openings in upland woods, wooded borders, and in mafic glades and barrens.
See also Habitat Account for Rich Dry-Mesic Hardwood Forests
PhenologyBlooms from April to June, and fruits soon after flowering.
IdentificationThis is a typical Polygala, growing to about 10-12 inches tall. This species has wider leaves than nearly all others in the genus, being alternate, generally elliptic, about 2 inches long and about 2/3-inch wide; most others in the genus have linear leaves. Thus, this species appears "leafy" as compared with others. The top of the stem (or any branches) contains the spire-like raceme, about 2 inches long and quite narrow, but in the species the small and densely-packed flowers are white to greenish-white, rather than rose to pink. At first glance, it looks quite like a small and upland species of smartweed. Thankfully, when found, it often grows in somewhat dense patches, and is quite striking with its white spires of flowers.
Taxonomic CommentsWeakley (2020) recognizes two varieties, but they occur in the same habitats and occupy essentially the same range. We will defer until additional documentation and annotated specimens.

Other Common Name(s)None
State RankS2 [S2S3]
Global RankG4G5
State StatusSC-V
US Status
USACE-agcpFACU link
USACE-empFACU link
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
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B.A. SorrieStanly County, 2008, Union Chapel Enon Knolls, mesic rocky woodland. StanlyPhoto_natural

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