This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol2", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Polygala cymosa Walt. Fl. Car. 179. 1788.
P. acutifolia T. & G. Fl. N. A. I: 128. 1838.
Annual or biennial; stem erect, glabrous, 2°-3° high, simple, slightly angular; roots fibrous. Basal leaves elongated-linear, attenuate at the apex, 2'-3' long, 2"-3" wide, entire, densely tufted; stem-leaves linear-subulate, bract-like, 5"-8" long; inflorescence a simple or compound cluster of spike-like racemes; pedicels "-2" long; bracts persistent; flowers yellow, drying greenish black; seed globose, minute, nearly glabrous; caruncle none.
1803. Polygala ramosa Ell. Bot. S. C. & Ga. 2: 186. 1822.
Annual or biennial, glabrous; stems tufted or single from fibrous roots, 6'-16' high, simple. Stem-leaves linear-oblong, obtuse, 6"-10" long, 1"-2" wide; basal leaves much broader and often larger, spatulate or obovate; inflorescence a terminal compound corymb, 3'-6' broad, of numerous peduncled spike-like racemes; flowers citron-yellow, 1 /2" long, drying dark green; pedicels 1" long or less; wings oblong, acuminate; crest minute; seed ovoid, hairy, twice to thrice the length of the caruncle.
In low pine barrens, Delaware to Florida, west to Louisiana. June-Sept.
Polygala lutea L. Sp. Pl. 705. 1753.
Annual, glabrous; stems tufted from fibrous roots, erect or ascending, or at length divaricately branched, 6'-i2' high. Stem-leaves oblong-lanceolate, acute or obtuse, 8"-15" long, 2"-4" wide, entire; basal leaves broader and often larger, obovate or spatulate, obtuse; spike-like racemes terminal, solitary, ovoid or oblong, very dense, 1/2'-1/2' long, 6"-p" thick, obtuse; flowers 2"-3" long, orange-yellow, preserving their color in drying; pedicels 1"-2" long; wings oblong-ovate, abruptly acuminate; crest of the corolla-tube minute; caruncle-lobes linear, about equalling the hairy seed, or shorter.
Polygala cruciata L. Sp. Pl. 706. 1753.
P. Torreyi Chodat, Mem. Mus. Gen. 312: 194. 1893.
Annual, erect, glabrous, 4'-16' high, at length freely branching above; stem square or slightly wing-angled. Basal leaves none; those of the stem and branches verticillate in 4's, or a few of them scattered, linear or oblanceolate, 1/2'-1 1/2' long, 1"-2" wide, entire, obtuse, mucronulate, the lower smaller; spike-like racemes oval, obtuse, 4"-9" thick, sessile or short-peduncled; pedicels slender, 1 1/2"-2" long; bracts persistent; flowers purple, greenish or white; wings triangular-ovate, sessile, somewhat cordate, acute, acuminate or awn-pointed, 1 1/2"-3" long, much exceeding the pods; crest of the corolla minute; seed oblong, slightly hairy, about equalling the caruncle.
In sandy swamps, Maine to Florida: Michigan to Minnesota, Nebraska and Louisiana. Drumheads. July-Sept.