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Polygala subspinosa

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)

Polygala subspinosa S. Watson
Habit: Perennial herb, shrub. Stem: generally < 2.5 dm, glabrous to short-stiff-hairy, occasionally glaucous. Leaf: 4--31 mm, obovate or elliptic, +- glabrous or with short, stiff hairs; base acuminate. Inflorescence: generally weakly thorn-tipped. Flower: 6--13 mm; sepal wings pink; keel petal beak 1--3 mm, entire or +- jagged, yellow or +- green. Fruit: 5.5--10 mm including stalk. Seed: 3.3--4.9 mm including hairs; seed body elliptic in ×-section, generally evenly hairy throughout; aril glabrous. Chromosomes: 2n=18,36.
Ecology: Desert scrub, volcanic mesas; Elevation: 1350--2285 m. Bioregional Distribution: MP (Lassen Co.), SNE (Sweetwater Mtns); Distribution Outside California: to Utah, southwestern Colorado, northwestern New Mexico, northern Arizona. Flowering Time: Jun--Jul
eFlora Treatment Author: Robert E. Preston & Thomas L. Wendt
Jepson Online Interchange
Listed on CNPS Rare Plant Inventory

Previous taxon: Polygala intermontana
Next taxon: Polygonaceae

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botanical illustration including Polygala subspinosa


Citation for this treatment: Robert E. Preston & Thomas L. Wendt 2016. Polygala subspinosa, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 30, 2016.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2016. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 30, 2016.

Polygala subspinosa
click for enlargement
© 2005 Christopher L. Christie
Polygala subspinosa
click for enlargement
© 2005 Christopher L. Christie
Polygala subspinosa
click for enlargement
© 2005 Christopher L. Christie
Polygala subspinosa
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© 1998 Christopher Christie
Polygala subspinosa
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© 2006 James M. Andre
Polygala subspinosa
click for enlargement
© 2005 Christopher L. Christie

More photos of Polygala subspinosa in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Polygala subspinosa:
MP (Lassen Co.), SNE (Sweetwater Mtns);
Markers link to CCH specimen records. If the markers are obscured, reload the page [or change window size and reload]. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.
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).

View elevation by latitude chart
Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.