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Genus of the Week

Week of Apr. 6-12

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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:


Subclass: Dicotyledoneae
Superorder: Rosidae
Order: Polygalales
Family: Polygalaceae: Milkworts
Tribe: Polygaleae
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:


  1. Forey, Pamela. Wild Flowers of North America. New York, Gallery Books: 1991.
  2. Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.
  3. 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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