Flowering-stems. - Three or four inches high, from long, prostrate or underground shoots which also bear cleistogamous flowers. Leaves. - The lower, small and scale-like, scattered, the upper, ovate, and crowded at the summit. Flowers. - Purple-pink, rarely white, rather large. Keel of Corolla. - Conspicuously fringed and crested. Stamens. - Six. Pistil. - One.
"I must not forget to mention that delicate and lovely flower of May, the fringed polygala. You gather it when you go for the fragrant showy orchis - that is, if you are lucky enough to find it. It is rather a shy flower, and is not found in every wood. One day we went up and down through the woods looking for it - woods of mingled oak, chestnut, pine, and hemlock, - and were about giving it up when suddenly we came upon a gay company of them beside an old wood-road. It was as if a flock of small rose-purple butterflies had alighted there on the ground before us. The whole plant has a singularly fresh and tender aspect. Its foliage is of a slightly purple tinge and of very delicate texture. Not the least interesting feature about the plant is the concealed fertile flower which it bears on a subterranean stem, keeping, as it were, one flower for beauty and one for use."
It seems unnecessary to tempt "odorous comparisons" by endeavoring to supplement the above description of Mr. Burroughs.