Genus of the Week
Week of Apr. 6-12
This page has been created for people who want to learn more about plants, especially in the context of their taxonomy (Latin names, etc.). This is by no means an exhaustive list of all available Web resources on a particular genus.
This week's genus:
Family: Polygalaceae: Milkworts
Number of Species: More than 500
Root: from the Greek "polu" (much) and "ga+la" (milk).
The genus Polygala makes up more than half the species of the Milkwort family. The common name comes from the mistaken belief that if cows ate these plants they would produce more milk.
Polygala species have flowers that bear a striking resemblance to the flowers of the Legumes, but the families are not related.
Here are a few links to images and descriptions of different Polygala species:
- Arian Jacobs has put together a very informative web site about her project, Polygaceae of the Guianas. Featured are information about the plant life in Guiana, descriptions of fieldwork, and a detailed reference list.
- Thomas Kornack, of Swarthmore College, has a nice photo of P. pauciflora (Fringed Polygala or Gaywings) on his Wildflower Photography web page.
- The Vascular Plant Image Gallery at Texas A&M University has several images of species of Polygala native to Texas,
including P. alba (White Milkwort), P. polygama (Racemed Milkwort) and P. chamaebuxus.
- The Missouri Botanical Garden website has an image of P. macroptera, a species growing in Madagascar.
- A Species Account has been compiled by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for P. smallii (Tiny Polygala), an endangered species now found only in Miami, Florida.
The same has also been done for P. lewtonii (Lewton's Polygala), another endangered species in Florida that is threatened by land development.
- From the Natural History of Hiroshima website comes an image and small description of P. japonica.
- Those interested in herbal therapy may also want to check out this issue of Richter's HerbLetter, which discusses the uses of P. senega (Snakeroot).
- The Southwest School of Botanical Medicine has an archive of medicinal plant jpegs that includes P. alba, P. pauciflora and P. senega
- Keith Bennett, from the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge, has a web page with an image of the pollen of P. vulgaris.
- Forey, Pamela. Wild Flowers of North America. New York, Gallery Books: 1991.
- Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.
- Neiring, William A. and Nancy C. Olmstead., eds. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region. Alfred A. Knopf, New York: 1979.
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