Cross-Leaved Milkwort, Polygala cruciata
Photograph by R.H. Wiegand
This plant of Maryland’s Coastal Plain is vulnerable to changes in the wet meadows where it lives. With only a few known populations surviving, Cross-leaved Milkwort is Threatened in the state. A State Threatened species is one whose existence is likely to become endangered, and in jeopardy in Maryland.
Because it prefers open habitats, this plant sometimes grows in the clearings under power lines where the soil and hydrology are suitable. Several utility companies are working with the Maryland Natural Heritage Program to manage rights-of-way to protect Cross-leaved Milkwort and dozens of other rare plants.
Cross-leaved Milkwort blooms in mid- to late- summer with clusters of rose-purple flowers. Its leaves, rowing in whorls of three or four, and its short flower stalks distinguish it from more common milkworts.
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