Jepson eFlora: Taxon page
Vascular Plants of California
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Polygala acanthoclada

Higher Taxonomy
Family: PolygalaceaeView Description 
Habit: [Annual] perennial herb, subshrub, shrub [tree, vine]; hairs unbranched. Leaf: simple, generally alternate (opposite or whorled); veins pinnate; margin generally +- entire; stipules generally 0. Inflorescence: raceme, spike, or panicle. Flower: bisexual, generally bilateral and +- pea-flower-like [or +- radial]; sepals 5, fused or not, lateral or inner pair generally larger and petal-like (called wings); petals 5[3], fused to stamen tube, [+- similar or] different with 1 lower keel petal, 2 strap-like upper petals, and 2[0] lateral petals; stamens 3--10, +- fused, tube open at top; ovary chambers 1--8 with 1 ovule each, style 1 or 0. Fruit: capsule [drupe or nut; occasionally winged]. Seed: often with aril.
Genera In Family: 20 genera, 1000 species: especially tropics, subtropics few cultivated.
eFlora Treatment Author: Robert E. Preston & Thomas L. Wendt
Scientific Editor: Bruce G. Baldwin.
Genus: PolygalaView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Common Name: MILKWORT
Habit: Root odor generally wintergreen. Inflorescence: raceme or spike, occasionally grouped and panicle-like; cleistogamous flowers occasionally solitary. Flower: bilateral; lateral 2 sepals enlarged; petals 3 or 5, keel petal generally with cylindric beak or fringed crest at tip; stamens 6--8, anthers dehiscent at tip, appearing 1-chambered; with nectary disk or gland; ovary chambers 2, stigma 2-lobed. Fruit: capsule. Seed: fusiform or ovoid, black, generally hairy, generally with prominent white aril on 1 end.
Species In Genus: +- 500 species: tropics, temperate. Etymology: (Greek: much milk, some European species said to increase milk in cows)
Reference: Wendt 1979 J Arnold Arbor 60:504--514
Polygala acanthoclada A. Gray
Habit: Subshrub, shrub; hairs spreading. Stem: sprawling to erect, < 10 dm, twigs densely hairy, white. Leaf: 5--25 mm, oblanceolate to narrowly elliptic or obovate, hairy. Inflorescence: thorn-tipped; flowers 1--15; pedicel 1.5--5.8 mm, hairy. Flower: 3--5.3 mm; outer sepals hairy, wings cream; keel petal beak 0 or minute. Fruit: 4--6 mm including stalk. Seed: 2--2.5 mm including hairs; aril glabrous. Chromosomes: 2n=18.
Ecology: Desert scrub, Joshua-tree or pinyon/juniper woodland, generally in loose, sandy or gravelly soil; Elevation: 945--1830 m. Bioregional Distribution: s DMoj (Lucerne Valley), DMtns (Eagle, New York mtns); Distribution Outside California: to southern Utah, Arizona. Flowering Time: May--Aug
Jepson eFlora Author: Robert E. Preston & Thomas L. Wendt
Reference: Wendt 1979 J Arnold Arbor 60:504--514
Jepson Online Interchange
Listed on CNPS Rare Plant Inventory

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Botanical illustration including Polygala acanthoclada

botanical illustration including Polygala acanthoclada


Citation for this treatment: Robert E. Preston & Thomas L. Wendt 2012, Polygala acanthoclada, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on September 17, 2019.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2019, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on September 17, 2019.

Polygala acanthoclada
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© 2004 James M. Andre
Polygala acanthoclada
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© 2005 James M. Andre
Polygala acanthoclada
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© 2002 Gary A. Monroe
Polygala acanthoclada
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© 2012 Keir Morse
Polygala acanthoclada
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© 2011 James M. Andre
Polygala acanthoclada
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© 2012 Aaron Schusteff

More photos of Polygala acanthoclada in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Polygala acanthoclada:
s DMoj (Lucerne Valley), DMtns (Eagle, New York mtns)
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map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


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Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.