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Polygala lutea (Orange milkwort)
Cressler, Alan

Polygala lutea

Polygala lutea L.

Orange Milkwort, Candy Weed

Polygalaceae (Milkwort Family)

Synonym(s): Pylostachya lutea


USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Compact, head-like clusters of brilliant orange flowers terminate leafy, simple or branched stems.

This flower is typical of the wet sandy soil and bogs of the pine barrens. The species name, Latin for "yellow," refers to the flower's distinctive color when dried; when fresh, it is bright orange, differing from most of the Milkworts, which are pinkish, yellow, or white. P. cymosa is very similar, but taller, while P. nana has lemon-yellow flowers on stems only to 6" (15 cm) tall.


From the Image Gallery

16 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

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

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Orange , Yellow
Bloom Time: Feb , Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov
Bloom Notes: Usually bright orange, rarely yellow-orange.


USA: AL , DE , FL , GA , LA , MD , MS , NC , NJ , NY , PA , SC , VA
Native Distribution: Coastal Plain; Long Island south to Florida; west to Louisiana.
Native Habitat: Damp sandy or peaty soil.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

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

Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

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


Record Modified: 2023-05-01
Research By: TWC Staff

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