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Polygala paucifolia (Gaywings)
Sherman, Doug

Polygala paucifolia

Polygala paucifolia Willd.

Gaywings, Fringed Polygala, Flowering Wintergreen

Polygalaceae (Milkwort Family)

Synonym(s): Polygaloides paucifolia, Triclisperma paucifolia

USDA Symbol: POPA5

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

A low plant, flowering from prostrate, underground stems and rootstocks, with pink flowers tinged with purple in the axils of clustered upper leaves.

This exquisite Orchid-like wildflower resembles a tailless, tiny airplane. It was thought that, if eaten by nursing mothers or fed to cows, Milkworts would increase milk production.


From the Image Gallery

22 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 8 inches tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul


USA: CT , DE , GA , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SC , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: AB , MB , NB , NL , ON , QC , SK
Native Distribution: Manitoba to New Brunswick; south through New England, and inland to Virginia and the mountains of Georgia; west to Tennessee, northern Illinois, Minnesota.
Native Habitat: Rich, moist woods.

Growing Conditions

Soil Moisture: Moist
Conditions Comments: The plant keeps one fertile flower buried on a stem, used for propagation.(Andy Fyon)


Conspicuous Flowers: yes

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:

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


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

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