Description: Annual or perennial herbs, shrubs or small trees.
Leaves alternate or occasionally opposite or whorled.
Flowers in terminal, lateral or axillary spikes or racemes and sometimes forming terminal panicles. Sepals 5, unequal, 2 inner sepals large and often wing-like and petaloid; sometimes persistent in fruit. Petals 3; 2 lateral ones fused at base to staminal tube; keel clawed, entire or with a dorsal crest. Stamens 8; anthers opening by apical pores. Ovary 2-locular, laterally compressed; style curved and variously dilated with 1 or 2 stigmas at apex.
Fruit a compressed capsule, often with a marginal wing; seeds with hairs on a cap-like or lobed caruncle.
Distribution and occurrence: World: 500–600 species, cosmopolitan. Australia: 15 species (12 species endemic, 3 species naturalized), Qld, N.S.W., Vic., S.A., W.A.
Text by L. Murray
| ||Key to the species|| |
|1||Flowers less than 8 mm long; herbs, sometimes woody at base, branches erect, prostrate or ascending, less than 50 cm high||2|
|Flowers more than 8 mm long; erect shrubs, usually more than 1 m high||4|
|2||Inflorescences many-flowered; flowers c. 2 mm long; leaves linear to narrow-lanceolate||Polygala paniculata|
|Inflorescences with few to several flowers; flowers usually 3–6 mm long; leaves not as above|
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|3||Wing sepals petaloid; leaves ovate or elliptic; fruit with a broad wing||Polygala japonica|
|Wing sepals not petaloid; leaves usually obovate to linear-oblong or narrow-elliptic; fruit with a very narrow wing|
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|4||Flowers in long terminal racemes; leaves linear tonarrow-elliptic,less than 6 mm wide||Polygala virgata|
|Flowers in short terminal racemes; leaves elliptic to broad-elliptic, usually more than 6 mm wide|
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