British Wildlife Wiki

The Polygala vulgaris (Common Milkwort) is a species of the genus Polygala.

In Scandinavia, it was called Freya's hair, but after the introduction of Christianity, it was renamed after the Virgin Mary.

According to Classical and Renaissance writers common milkwort was used medicinally as an infusion to increase the flow of a nursing mother's milk. Common milkwort grows on heaths, dunes and grasslands.

It is rare, but frequent in patches on calcerous grassland.

Structure Of The Plant[]

It has alternating pointed leaves and grows up to 10 cm high. The stems have many branches and are woody at the base. The flower's outer three sepals are normally small, green and insignificant, however the inner two sepals are bigger and brightly coloured blue, mauve, pink or white. The heath milkwort can be all the same colours except for white. These four possible colours account for the milkworts' Irish folk-name of 'four sisters'. In Common Milkwort, the inner sepals are usually shorter than the petals, but in the heath milkwort they are longer. The stalks of the eight stamens are joined together to form a tube, and united with this tube, one on either side, are two tiny petals. On the lower side of the flower lies the third petal; it too, is joined to the stamen tube, but it is larger, and fringed.