Monday, June 4, 2012
Candyroot - Polygala nana
Candyroot (Polygala nana) is a distinctive member of this diverse genus, rarely standing taller than 4 inches, but conspicuously adorned with bright yellow "cones" of flowers. It is found statewide in open wet to moist pinelands, often occurring on trails and the upper edges of shallow depressions. Outside of Florida, it occurs throughout the Southeast from North Carolina west to Arkansas and south to Texas.
Like many species in this genus, candyroot is an annual. It emerges very early in spring and forms a basal rosette of thick oval light-green leaves that hug the ground and curl slightly upward.
Flowering occurs in late spring and often lasts well past the start of the summer rainy season - June/July. The tiny flowers are arranged in a "pine cone"-like structure. Most plants produce about 4-6 of these and they are clustered close together, upright from the base. Though these are small plants, blooming specimens are quite showy; especially in the understory of pine flatwoods where there might be hundreds in bloom.
Candyroot is common in Florida, but not sold commercially. I have tried to maintain it in my Pinellas County landscape, but have never had success in getting it to reseed and persist. Simply admire it for its beauty. It is not a landscape plant.