Polygala cruciata L. var. cruciata

Locations ofPolygala cruciata L. var. cruciata in Virginia

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Botanical Name
Polygala cruciata L. var. cruciata
Common Name
Southern Cross-leaved Milkwork; Drumheads
Polygala cruciata L. (sensu stricto)
Flora of Virginia Name/Status
Polygala cruciata L. var. cruciata
Two varieties have been recognized by some authorities. The northern variety, var. aquilonia Fern. & Schub., ranges south, primarily inland, 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. 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.

Var. cruciata is the more frequent segregate in Virginia, occurring locally throughout the central and southern parts of the Coastal Plain, and rarely the adjacent outer Piedmont. In this region, it is sympatric with var. aquilonia, specimens of confusing, intermediate morphology appear to be locally frequent. It can also be difficult to distinguish specimens of young or depauperate var. cruciata from specimens of var. aquilonia. Further study is warranted. Note that the Accomack Co. specimen has not been examined and has been assigned to var. cruciata for mapping purposes but may prove to be var. aquilonia.
Bogs, wet flatwoods, and boggy clearings such as power-line swales. Infrequent and local, Coastal Plain and outer Piedmont of c. and se. Virginia.
Native Status

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