Common Milkwort

©Philip Precey

Common Milkwort

Scientific name: Polygala vulgaris
The dark-blue flowers of Common Milkwort pepper our grasslands from May to September. It can also appear in pink and white forms.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 30cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

May to September

About

Common Milkwort is a low-growing, sometimes trailing, flower of grasslands, particularly those of chalky soils. It blooms from May to September, the delicate flowers appearing in a variety of colours from dark-blue, through pink to white.

How to identify

Common Milkwort has narrow and pointed leaves that grow alternately up the stem. Its similar and close relative, Heath Milkwort, has leaves that are opposite each other. The small, blue flowers appear in loose clusters at the end of the stem.

Distribution

Widespread.

Did you know?

Medieval herbalists prescribed Common Milkwort to nursing mothers in the belief that it made 'milk more abundant'. This idea came from its Greek name of 'much milk', which probably actually referred to the milk they got from the cattle that grazed where it grew.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many grassland habitats sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. Careful grazing with traditional breeds, hay-cutting at the right time and scrub clearance are just some of the ways grasslands are kept in good condition. By volunteering for your local Trust you can help too, and you'll make new friends and learn new skills along the way.