Electronic Flora of South Australia
Electronic Flora of South Australia
Census of SA Plants, Algae & Fungi
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Electronic Flora of South Australia genus Fact Sheet

Family: Polygalaceae

Citation: L., Sp. Pl. 702 (1753).

Derivation: Latin form of Greek; polys, much; gala, milk; referring to a belief that animals eating some plants in the genus produced more milk.

Synonymy: Not Applicable

Common name: Milkworts.

Annual or perennial herbs, shrubs or small trees, often with a woody rootstock; leaves usually alternate, occasionally opposite or verticillate.

Flowers in terminal, lateral or rarely axillary spikes or racemes, each subtended by an often deciduous bract and 2 bracteoles; sepals 5, unequal, sometimes deciduous; petals 3; 2 lateral petals adnate at the base to the staminal tube; keel clawed, often auricled above the claw, entire or with a dorsal crest consisting of 2 variously divided or entire appendages; stamens 8, monadelphous; filaments entirely joined or free for part of their length; anthers 2-celled, opening by a common terminal pore; ovary 2-celled, laterally compressed; style usually curved, often hooked, variously dilated at the apex; stigmas 1 or 2; ovules 1 in each cell, anatropous, pendulous from the top of the central axis.

Fruit a compressed capsule, loculicidally dehiscent at the margins, often with a marginal wing; seeds usually dark-coloured, with hairs, bearing a cap-like caruncle at the base.

Distribution:  At least 500 species, widespread especially in tropical areas. 13 species are native to Australia.

Biology: No text

Key to Species:
1. Prostrate herb, sometimes densely branched
P. isingii 1.
1. Erect plants, either shrubs or herbs
2. Erect annuals to 260 cm tall; flowers white
P. monspeliaca 2.
2. Shrubs; flowers purple to lilac
3. Densely leaved shrub; leaves elliptic to broad-elliptic
P. myrtifolia 3.
3. Leafy to sometimes leafless virgate shrub; leaves linear to narrowly elliptic
P. virgata 4.

Author: Not yet available

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