Polygala virgata Thunb.

Broom Milkwort

Prodr. Pl. Cap. 2: 120 (1800) APNI

Taxonomic status:Accepted

Occurrence status:Present

Establishment means:Naturalised

Slender, erect, broom-like shrub to c. 2 m high, leafless or nearly so; stems with protuberant petiole scars, virtually glabrous. Leaves, when present, obovate to linear, 8–30 mm long, 1–2.5 mm wide. Flowers mauve, in terminal racemes 4–15 cm long; bracts and bracteoles narrow-ovate, 1.5–2.5 mm long, soon deciduous; pedicels 3–5.5 mm long; sepals free, the upper and lower ones ovate, 3.5–5 mm long, wings broad-obovate, 10–12 mm long, 7–10 mm wide, c. 6-nerved with oblique connecting veinlets, mauve on both surfaces; corolla subequal to sepals, keel pink, with a darker apical blotch, appendages c. 4 mm long, lateral petals c. half as long as keel. Capsule obcordate, c. 9 mm long; seed hirsute, c. 3.5 mm long, with aril c. 1 mm long. Flowers most of year.

*GipP, *OtP, *VVP. Also naturalised WA, SA, Qld, NSW. Native to South Africa. Apparently weakly naturalised in Portland area (a localized infestation near Mt Eccles was noted in 1991), on the Bellarine Peninsula near Pt Lonsdale, and at Kangaroo Lake, near Kerang (2017), otherwise with only a pre-1900 record from Oakleigh.

Victorian specimens appear to be smaller-flowered than those from other States and may be referable to var. virgata, the others probably belonging to the larger-flowered, leafier var. decora (Sond.) Harv. The distinctions between the varieties of this species, however, are not always clear.

Source: Walsh, N.G. (1999). Polygalaceae. In: Walsh, N.G.; Entwisle, T.J. (eds), Flora of Victoria Vol. 4, Cornaceae to Asteraceae. Inkata Press, Melbourne.
Updated by: Neville Walsh, 2017-11-22
Hero image
Distribution map
life Life
kingdom Plantae
phylum Tracheophyta
superorder Rosanae
order Fabales
family Polygalaceae
genus Polygala
Higher taxa


Source: AVH (2014). Australia's Virtual Herbarium, Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, <http://avh.chah.org.au>. Find Polygala virgata in AVH ; Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, © The State of Victoria, Department of Environment and Primary Industries (published Dec. 2014) Find Polygala virgata in Victorian Biodiversity Atlas
  Bioregion Occurrence status Establishment means
Victorian Volcanic Plain present introduced
Gippsland Plain present introduced
Otway Plain present naturalised

State distribution

Distribution map
Western Australia
South Australia
New South Wales