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Genus Polygala Family Polygalaceae

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.

Photo L. von Richter

Photo L. von Richter

Photo L. von Richter

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
Taxon concept:

 Key to the species 
1Flowers less than 8 mm long; herbs, sometimes woody at base, branches erect, prostrate or ascending, less than 50 cm high2
Flowers more than 8 mm long; erect shrubs, usually more than 1 m high4
2Inflorescences many-flowered; flowers c. 2 mm long; leaves linear to narrow-lanceolatePolygala paniculata
Inflorescences with few to several flowers; flowers usually 3–6 mm long; leaves not as above
                       Back to 1
3Wing sepals petaloid; leaves ovate or elliptic; fruit with a broad wingPolygala japonica
Wing sepals not petaloid; leaves usually obovate to linear-oblong or narrow-elliptic; fruit with a very narrow wing
                       Back to 2
Polygala linariifolia
4Flowers in long terminal racemes; leaves linear tonarrow-elliptic,less than 6 mm widePolygala virgata
Flowers in short terminal racemes; leaves elliptic to broad-elliptic, usually more than 6 mm wide
                       Back to 1
Polygala myrtifolia

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