Polygala vulgaris - L.
Common Name Milkwort, Common milkwort
Family Polygalaceae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, at least one member of this genus is said to be poisonous in large quantities.
Habitats Grassland on heaths, dunes etc[17], on acidic and alkaline soils[214].
Range Europe, including Britain, from Norway south and east to N. Africa and W. Asia.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

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Polygala vulgaris Milkwort, Common milkwort

Polygala vulgaris Milkwort, Common milkwort
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Polygala vulgaris is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.4 m (1ft 4in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6. It is in flower from May to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

P. oxyptera.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts:
Edible Uses: Tea.

The leaves are used as a tea substitute[177]. They are used to adulterate green China tea[2].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Diaphoretic;  Diuretic;  Expectorant;  Stimulant.

The bitter-tasting milkwort has a reputation for increasing milk flow in nursing mothers, but this belief is in fact unfounded[254]. Whilst little used in modern herbalism, the root and aerial parts of the plant contain triterpenoid saponins which promote the clearing of phlegm from the bronchial tubes and so is a valuable herb for the treatment of respiratory problems such as chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma and convulsive coughs such as whooping cough[254]. The plant is also thought to have sweat-inducing and diuretic properties[254].


Other Uses
None known
Cultivation details
Prefers a moderately fertile moisture-retentive well-drained soil, succeeding in full sun if the soil remains moist throughout the growing season, otherwise it is best in semi-shade[200]. Dislikes shade according to another report. A very polymorphic species[200].
Seed - sow spring or autumn in a cold frame[214]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division. Cuttings of young shoots in a frame in late spring[1].
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants


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Subject : Polygala vulgaris  

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