Ontario Wildflowers website

Fringed Polygala
Polygaloides paucifolia

Fringed Polygala (Polygaloides paucifolia) Other common names: Bird-on-the-Wing, Flowering Wintergreen, Fringed Milkwort, Gay Wings, Gaywings

Other scientific names: Polygala uniflora

French names: Polygala paucifoliť

Family: Milkwort Family (Polygalaceae)

Distinctive features: Low plant, resembles Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens). Small orchid-like blue-purple flowers. Forests.

Similar species:
  •   Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) - Leaves are very similar but smell like wintergreen.


Flowers: Spring, Summer;  White, Blue/Violet;  Irregular flowers;  Spring - early summer. Orchid-like. Blue-purple, rarely white.

Leaves: Alternate, crowded near the top of the short stem.

Height: 7-12 cm (3-5 in)

Habitat: Forests;  Dry to moist forests.

Books: Newcomb's Wildflower Guide: 40    Peterson's Field Guide to Wildflowers: 214, 244    ROM Field Guide to Wildflowers of Ontario: 336   

Native/Non-native: Native

Status: Common. White-flowered forms are rare.

Notes: Be careful not to mistake this for Wintergreen, as its leaves are edible and those of Fringed Polygala are most likely not.

Origin and Meaning of Names:
 Scientific Name: paucifolia: few-leaved


Photographs: 263 photographs available, of which 10 are featured on this page. SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOGRAPHS.

Range Map is at the bottom of the page

Fringed Polygala (Polygaloides paucifolia) flower

Fringed Polygala has a very orchid-like flower, as seen in these photos.

Fringed Polygala (Polygaloides paucifolia) flowers

There are three petals. Two of them are outstretched, like wings. The thirds forms a sort of cylinder around the stamens.

Fringed Polygala (Polygaloides paucifolia) flower

At the end is this frilly structure. It is usually pink or yellow.

Fringed Polygala (Polygaloides paucifolia) flower

Fringed Polygala flowers are very small, you can almost cover them up with your finger.

Fringed Polygala (Polygaloides paucifolia) flower buds

Flower buds.

Fringed Polygala (Polygaloides paucifolia) leaves

Fringed Polygala without flowers. It closely resembles Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens).

Fringed Polygala (Polygaloides paucifolia) flower

The very rare white-flowered form of Fringed Polygala!

Fringed Polygala (Polygaloides paucifolia) flower

The white-flowered form is identical to the regular blue-purple form, except for the pure white color.

Fringed Polygala (Polygaloides paucifolia) flowers

Fringed Polygala (Polygaloides paucifolia)

Quite beautiful!


Range map for Fringed Polygala (Polygaloides paucifolia)

PLEASE NOTE: A coloured Province or State means this species occurs somewhere in that Province/State.
The entire Province/State is coloured, regardless of where in that Province/State it occurs.

(Range map provided courtesy of the USDA website and is displayed here in accordance with their Policies)