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Polygala alba (White milkwort)
Richardson, Charmaine

Polygala alba

Polygala alba Nutt.

White Milkwort

Polygalaceae (Milkwort Family)

Synonym(s): Polygala alba var. suspecta

USDA Symbol: POAL4

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

Numerous slender, erect stems, each topped by tiny, white, bilaterally symmetrical flowers in a narrowly cone-shaped raceme.

Polygala comes from a Greek word meaning “much milk”; some species were thought to stimulate the flow of milk in cattle and nursing mothers.


From the Image Gallery

44 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 20 inches tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov


USA: AR , AZ , CO , KS , MT , ND , NE , NM , OK , SD , TX , WY
Canada: SK
Native Distribution: Eastern Montana south to eastern Colorado, New Mexico, and central Arizona, east to Texas, and north through much of the Great Plains to Minnesota; also in Mexico.
Native Habitat: Ditches, Ravines, Depressions, Thickets

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Limestone-based, Caliche type
Conditions Comments: Propagate by seed. Space 6" apart.Plant has a long bloom periodand it responds well to fertilizer and water.


Use Ornamental: Perennial garden, Rock gardens, Shortgrass meadow
Use Medicinal: Root scraped, then boiled in water, liquid poured into aching ears by Sioux. (Weiner) Dried powdered root sold in pharmacies as "senega" or "senegin" and is used for respiratory ailments.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Deer Resistant: High


Propagation Material: Seeds

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 0365 Collected May 2, 1993 in Comal County by Mary Beth White
NPSOT 0511 Collected Apr 11, 1992 in Kendall County by Lottie Millsaps
NPSOT 0679 Collected Jul 18, 1992 in Bandera County by Harry Cliffe
NPSOT 0286 Collected Aug. 16, 1992 in Kendall County by Kristina Coates

4 specimen(s) available in the Digital Herbarium


Bibref 1207 - Earth Medicine, Earth Food (1990) Michael A. Weiner
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 248 - Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide (1984) Loughmiller, C. & L. Loughmiller
Bibref 328 - Wildflowers of Texas (2003) Ajilvsgi, Geyata.
Bibref 286 - Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country (1989) Enquist, M.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Polygala alba in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Polygala alba in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Polygala alba


Record Modified: 2023-02-23
Research By: NPC

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