Cross Leaf Milkwort
Polygala cruciata - Linnaeus
Polygalaceae (Candy Root) Family
Plant is an upright annual with winged stems. Its preferred habitat is bogs, savannas and pinelands. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region.
Flowers are a cylindrical spike, 1/2 inch across elongating up to 1 inch long at maturity. Flowers are bisexual in nature and irregular in form, 5 sepals, with 2 being petaloid and pinkish to greenish. The petals and sepals are egg-shaped and wing-like, resembling fish scales from the outside. The corolla tube is fringed at the apex, pinkish to whitish; 8 stamens.
The leaves are whorled with 4 per whorl, no teeth and no lobes or leaf stalk. Leaf shape is linear to narrowly oblanceolate. Each leaf is usually about 1.5 inch long and very narrow, hairless and toothless, with pointed tips and little or no stalk. There is a prominent vein down the center.
Fruit is a small round capsule containing 2 hairy seeds.
Note: Most of the plants in this area have 5-12 leaf-bearing nodes. Sometimes a more northern entity with 3-5 leaf bearing nodes is recognized as either a var. P. aquilonia or a subspecies. If the more northern entity occurs in Alabama, it would more than likely be in the extreme northern counties.