Polygala incarnata

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Polygala incarnata
Polygala incarnata Gil.jpg
Photo taken by Gil Nelson
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Order: Polygalales
Family: Polygalaceae
Genus: Polygala
Species: P. incarnata
Binomial name
Polygala incarnata
POLY INCA dist.jpg
Natural range of Polygala incarnata from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common names: procession flower, pink milkwort

Taxonomic notes

Synonym: Galypola incarnata (Linnaeus) Nieuwland[1]

Varieties: none[1]


"Herbs, whorled or alternate rarely opposite, entire leaves. Flowers lavender, pink, white or yellow, in racemes or spikes, terminating the branches or in terminal corymbs. Flowers perfect, zygomorphic, with 3 small sepals, frequently one of these slightly larger than the others, and 2 larger petaloid sepals (wigs). The 3 petals are united into a tube, 3-lobed at apex, the 2 lateral lobes usually the longer, the center lobe usually lacerate, often thicker in texture; stamens 6-8, united to the corolla tube in 2 rows. Capsule 2 –locular, with one seed in each locule. Seeds dark brown or black, ellipsoid or ovoid, rarely globose, 0.5-3 mm long, usually densely pubescent. The genus has been divided into several genera none of which have distinct characteristics. Orange flowers turn pale yellow on drying, yellow ones bluish green; the pink or lavender ones remain the same color or fade slightly."[2]

"Glabrous, glaucous annual. Stems strict to slightly branched, the cotyledons often present at flowering time. Leaves fleshy, alternate, linear, 5-17 mm long, setaceous or sharply acute. Flowers in spike or racemes; pedicels 1 mm or less long or absent. Sepals ca. 1 mm long, pink, acute or acuminate, wings similar but larger, 2.5-3 mm long, oblanceolate, pink; corolla tube reddish pink, prominently fringed, 5-6.5 mm long; stamens 8. Seeds black, 1-1.7 mm long; aril confined to base, lobe 1, scarcely projecting."[2]




This species has been found in longleaf pine flatwoods, near sphagnum filled boggy areas, and savannas in drying and moist loamy sands of well drained uplands.[3] It has also been found in the sand pine scrub of Ocala National Forest.[4]P. incarnata has also been seen growing in disturbed habitats such as raked fire breaks of upland longleaf pine-wiregrass communities at Pebble Hill Plantation.[5] Associated species include longleaf pine and wiregrass.[3]


P. incarnata has been observed flowering from April to July and in September with peak inflorescence in May.[3][6]

Fire ecology

Polygala incarnata occurs in areas that are on frequent burn intervals,[3] as evidenced by populations known to persist through repeated annual burning.[7]

Conservation, cultivation, and restoration

Cultural use

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Weakley, A.S. 2020. Flora of the Southeastern United States. Edition of 20 October 2020. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Radford, Albert E., Harry E. Ahles, and C. Ritchie Bell. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. 1964, 1968. The University of North Carolina Press. 658. Print.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: http://herbarium.bio.fsu.edu. Last accessed: June 2014. Collectors: Loran C. Anderson, R. A. Norris, Rodie White, R. Komarek, R. F. Doren, Robert K. Godfrey, and M. Davis. States and Counties: Florida: Jefferson, Wakulla, and Washington. Georgia: Grady and Thomas.
  4. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Greenberg 2003
  5. DiSabatino, Dante G. 2015. Personal observation at Pebble Hill Plantation, Grady County, GA
  6. Nelson, G. PanFlora: Plant data for the eastern United States with emphasis on the Southeastern Coastal Plains, Florida, and the Florida Panhandle. www.gilnelson.com/PanFlora/ Accessed: 12 DEC 2016
  7. Platt, W.J., R. Carter, G. Nelson, W. Baker, S. Hermann, J. Kane, L. Anderson, M. Smith, K. Robertson. 2021. Unpublished species list of Wade Tract old-growth longleaf pine savanna, Thomasville, Georgia.