Friday, November 12, 2010
Yellow Milkwort - Polygala rugelii
Yellow or Rugel's milkwort (Polygala rugelii) is a more robust member of the milkwort family. This species is a Florida endemic, found only in the Florida peninsula and nowhere else. Yellow milkwort occurs in moist to wet soil habitats where it gets high levels of sunlight; open savannas, marsh edges and wet pine flatwoods.
It is an annual (sometimes a biennial). An irregular rosette of spatulate leaves is formed in spring and a flower stalk arises interior to these by summer. At this time, the basal leaves mostly wither and disappear. The flower stalk stands about 1-3 feet tall and is often branched. The flower buds at the end of each stem are rounded.
Flowering occurs mostly in the late summer and early fall. The rounded heads of bright yellow flowers are about 1 inch in diameter and quite showy. They are pollinated by a variety of small insects.
Yellow milkwort can be abundant in locations that meet its growing requirements. Because it is an annual, however, it is not always present and difficult to maintain in the landscape. Admire it while you are hiking throughout penisular Florida and respect the fact that only Floridians can call this beautiful wildflower a native species.