White Milkwort (Polygala alba)

Found a good size patch of White Milkwort on the south side of my property. Pretty little things, emphasis on little, maybe 6 inches tall and delicate fairy flowers in the food forest.

White Milkwort (Polygala alba)

White Milkwort (Polygala alba)

They were small enough that I used the 4x zoom.

White Milkwort bloom

White Milkwort bloom

Here I picked a bloom and it is easier to see the structure.

This little perennial stays under 1 foot and blooms April through November.  It lives in part shade and dry soil, no surprise there!  The White Milkwort colony I found is in bloom and pretty enough that I will collect seed for a couple dry shady spots in my garden.

Do not eat the White Milkwort.

The Souix scraped the root, boiled it in water, and poured it into the ear for an earache.

White Milkwort root is prepared and sold as Senega.  Senega is technically Polygala senega (Senega Snake Root) and White Milkwort is one on several related species that are currently collected and used under the name Senega.

The main uses are for cough and bronchitis, catarrh, pneumonia, lung problems.  It tastes nasty and can be mixed something to disguise the taste… or not.  An overdose can make you violently ill and constrict your esophagus.  Also rapid exosmosis (leakage or rupture) of capillaries.  Vomiting and purging.  This is not like overeating and feeling lethargic, folks.

I don’t see me experimenting with White Milkwort, but is a natural member of my food forest and part of my Pharmacopeia.  If it gets well started in my flower beds, I will harvest, dry, and powder the root.  As a verification, the root smells like Wintergreen.  Thank goodness I don’t need its strength.

One of the plants used as Senega is grown in Japan for lung problems and they are studying its constituents and their medicinal properties.

White Milkwort grows in the central part of the United States and Polygala senega grows in the Eastern part.    Research suggests there is no difference in the constituents in the roots and White Milkwort is indistinguishable from Senega Snakeroot when dried and powdered.


About rebeccatreeseed

I am a naturalist raised by naturalists. Treeseed is my earned name, while Rebecca is my birth name. I am of Northern European descent, with a quarter Irish.quarter thrown in. I suspect I was a product of northern invaders into Ireland into Ireland. but hard to say since DNA disproved the family story about Apache blood! I have found some odd ancestors to replace them. Last year I bought 5 acres of pinyon-juniper forest on the side of a mountain in Santa Fe County, New Mexico. I am fulfilling a lifetime dream of a cabin in the mountains and a food forest that will feed me and local wildlife. I want to share this new phase of my life with others that might be interested.
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