Plants and Animals

Polygala incarnata Pink milkwort

species photo
Susan R. Crispin
species photo
Ryan P. O'Connor
species photo
Ryan P. O'Connor

Key Characteristics

Small forb (60 cm) of lakeplain prairies; stems very slender and glaucous with tiny, scale-like leaves; bright pink, tiny flowers are borne in clusters atop the stem; flower petals uniting to form a long (7-10 mm) floral tube.

Status and Rank

US Status:
State Status: X - Presumed extirpated (legally 'threatened' if rediscovered)
Global Rank: G5 - Secure
State Rank: SX - Presumed extirpated

Occurrences

CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
St. Clair31900

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.

Habitat

Pink milkwort is found in a variety of habitat ranging from dry sand to wet peaty soils, prairie remnants, lake margins, and meadows. This species has not been documented in Michigan since 1900, but it is known from high-quality lakeplain prairies on islands just across the St. Clair River in Ontario, Canada.

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Associated Plants

Big bluestem, little bluestem, Pennsylvania sedge, tower mustard, whorled milkweed, Ohio horse mint, old field balsam, hairy hawkweed, dwarf dandelion, rough blazing star, cylindrical blazing star, blue toadflax, wild lupine, horsemint, racemed milkwort, panic grass, Venus looking glass, flowering spurge, rosinweed, field milkwort, and colic root, bluejoint grass, cordgrass, rush, sedges, twig-rush, shrubby cinquefoil, swamp milkweed, Sullivant's milkweed, purple milkweed, and swamp thistle.

Management Recommendations

The habitat of this species has been severely degraded and diminished. Conservation and restoration of native prairie remnants is necessary. This species likely requires natural disturbances associated with prairie habitat such as prescribed fire and brush removal. Maintenance of hydrology is also likely important.

Survey Methods

Random meander search covers areas that appear likely to have rare taxa, based on habitat and the judgment of the investigator.

  • Meander search

    • Survey Period: From first week of July to fourth week of August

References

Survey References

  • Elzinga, C.L., D.W. Salzer, and J.W. Willoughby. 1998. Measuring and Monitoring Plant Populations. The Nature Conservancy and Bureau of Land Management, Denver. BLM Technical Reference 1730-1. 477pp.
  • Goff, G.F., G.A. Dawson, and J.J. Rochow. 1982. Site examination for Threatened and Endangered plant species. Environmental Management 6(4): 307-316
  • Nelson, J.R. 1984. Rare Plant Field Survey Guidelines. In: J.P. Smith and R. York. Inventory of rare and endangered vascular plants of California. 3rd Ed. California Native Plant Society, Berkeley. 174pp.
  • Nelson, J.R. 1986. Rare Plant Surveys: Techniques For Impact Assessment. Natural Areas Journal 5(3):18-30.
  • Nelson, J.R. 1987. Rare Plant Surveys: Techniques for Impact Assessment. In: Conservation and management of rare and endangered plants. Ed. T.S. Elias. California Native Plant Society, Sacramento. 8pp.

Technical References

  • Cooperrider, T.S. 1995. The Dicotyledonae of Ohio Part 2. Linaceae through Campanulaceae. Ohio State University Press, Columbus. 656pp.
  • Gleason, H. A., and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Second edition. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. 910pp.
  • Godfrey, R.K. and Wooten. 1981. Aquatic and Wetland Plants of Southeastern United States. Dicotyledons. University of Georgia Press, Athens. 712pp.
  • Gray, A. 1950. Gray's Manual of Botany; eighth ed. Van Nostrand Reinghold, New York. 1632pp.
  • Holmgren, N.H. 1998. Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the vascular plants of Northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. 937pp.
  • Swink, F. and G. Wilhelm. 1994. Plants of the Chicago Region, 4th ed. Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolis. 921pp.
  • Voss, E. G. 1985. Michigan Flora. Part II. Dicots (Saururaceae-Cornaceae). Bulletin of the Cranbrook Institute of Science and University of Michigan Herbarium. 724pp.