Senega cruciata (L.) J.F.B. Pastore & J.R. Abbott

Locations ofSenega cruciata (L.) J.F.B. Pastore & J.R. Abbott in Virginia

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Botanical Name
Senega cruciata (L.) J.F.B. Pastore & J.R. Abbott
Common Name
Southern Cross-leaved Milkwork; Drumheads
Polygala cruciata L.; Polygala cruciata L. var. cruciata
Flora of Virginia Name/Status
Polygala cruciata L. var. cruciata
Recent studies by Pastore et al. (2019, Taxon 68: 673-691) demonstrated that the New World members and Old World members of the large and non-monophyletic genus Polygala (sensu lato) are phylogenetically, morphologically, and geographically separated into two clades and cannot be considered congeneric. Since the type species of the genus is in the Old World group, the New World species (including all from Virginia) were re-assigned to the genus Senega Spach 1838 (Pastore et al., 2023, Ann. Mo. Bot. Gard. 108: 126-249).

See Comments under the map of Senega aquilonia, which is sympatric with S. cruciata in eastern Virginia. In this region, the two species can be difficult to distinguish 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 (under Polygala) represent distinct evolutionary lineages and merit recognition at the species level. Senega cruciata is the more frequent species in Virginia, occurring locally throughout the central and southern parts of the Coastal Plain, and rarely the adjacent outer Piedmont. Note that the Accomack Co. specimen has not been examined and has been assigned to S. cruciata for mapping purposes but may prove to be S. 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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