Rare, Threatened and Endangered Plant Fact Sheets

Crossleaf Milkwort

photo of cross-leaved milkwort  

Crossleaf 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, Crossleaf 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 Crossleaf Milkwort and dozens of other rare plants.

Crossleaf 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.