Polygala senega (Seneca Snakeroot)
|Also known as:||Mountain Flax, Rattlesnake Snakeroot|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; sandy or rocky soil, open woods, prairies, stream banks|
|Bloom season:||May - July|
|Plant height:||10 to 18 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Tapering spikes to 2 inches long of 1/8 inch, white flowers tinged with green. Individual flowers are flanked bi-laterally by round winged sepals with three other sepals (one tipped with minute fringes) enclosing the flower column. The flowers drop off as soon as seed begins to develop. Flowers bloom from the bottom of the spike up.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are slender, about 3/8 inch wide and 1 to 2 inches long, toothless, mostly hairless, tapering to a pointed at the tip, with little or no leaf stem, alternately attached. A plant typically has a multiple, unbranched stems emerging from the root system, in a clump. Stems may be green or purplish, and hairy to varying degrees, especially in the upper part of the stem.
This milkwort species is generally found SW of a line from Kittson county in the NW, running down through the Metro to Houston county in the SE. It frequents open grasslands and woodland openings. The flower spike is similar to the related Whorled Milkweed (P. verticillata) but the latter has whorled leaves and usually branches frequently.
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Photos taken at Rice Creek Trail Regional Park, Shoreview, MN May and July 2009
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?