Milkworts - Polygala spp

Milkworts Polygala spp are low growing plants with small narrow leaves. The flowers are small and an unusual shape, with a little fringed tube between 2 large strongly coloured lateral 'wings'. The flowers are blue, purple, mauve, pink or white, in spikes. Flower colour is not a reliable indication of species - they can be any shade of blue, pink or white. Common Milkwort P. vulgaris is generally a less intense blue than Chalk Milkwort P. calcarea, and also more likely to be mauve or white.

Chalk Milkwort P. calcarea: very difficult to distinguish from Common Milkwort P. vulgaris. Check that the basal leaves form a rosette, just above a slender, leafless, unbranched stem; lower leaves are larger than upper (alternating) leaves. Check that the leaf veins are simple and not joined by a matrix of smaller lateral veins. Flowers clustered together, not spaced out, and usually very bright blue. Restricted to short dry calcareous grassland or rocky, sandy, gravelly places. Flowers from April to June (earlier than P. vulgaris).
Chalk Milkwort P. calcarea, la Croix Sourde, near Chaumussay, May.

Chalk Milkwort P. calcarea, la Croix Sourde, near Chaumussay, May.

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