Polygala cruciata L.

Locations ofPolygala cruciata L. in Virginia

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Botanical Name
Polygala cruciata L.
Common Name
Cross-leaved Milkwort, Drum-heads
Flora of Virginia Name/Status
Polygala cruciata L.
Two varieties have been recognized by some authorities. The northern variety, var. aquilonia Fern. & Schub., ranges south in the Appalachians to ne. AL while var. cruciata occurs primarily on the southeastern Coastal Plain with a few inland disjunctions. The two taxa are sympatric in eastern Virginia, and can be difficult to distinguish there due to specimens of intermediate or equivocal morphology. The distribution of these vars. has been partly sorted out among Virginia herbarium specimens, and provisional varietal maps are provided in addition to the overall species map provided here. Sorrie and Weakley (Phytologia 2017-37: 1-9) conducted a morphological / ecological study of this complex, concluding that the two taxa represent distinct evolutionary lineages and merit recognition at the species level. Given the difficulties of sorting these taxa in their sympatric, eastern Virginia ranges, we are continuing to follow the varietal approach for the time being, hopefully pending further phylogenetic studies.
Bogs, fens, wet flatwoods, and boggy clearings such as power-line swales. Polygala cruciata s.l. is infrequent in the Coastal Plain north to Gloucester and Accomack counties; rare in the outer Piedmont (Goochland, Powhatan, and Spotsylvania counties); and disjunct to isolated mountain habitats in Augusta, Carroll, Floyd, and Grayson counties.
Native Status

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