I would like to dedicate this post to Jenepher Lingelbach, my very dear friend and giant contributor to the field of environmental education in Vermont. Thousands of people, both children and adults, benefitted from her enthusiastic and bountiful natural curiosity and her delight in sharing it with others. Jen’s influence will be felt for many generations to come.
Fringed Polygala (Polygala paucifolia) is one of those wildflowers that I am irresistibly drawn to photograph and post about almost every year. Also called Gaywings, this diminutive flower (about 1 ½ inches long) is a member of the Milkwort family, and produces compounds reputed to increase milk production in nursing mammals. The flaring wings and propeller-like. fringe on the flower’s tip give it the appearance of a small magenta airplane. When pollinators (mostly bumble bees) land on the fringe-tipped petal, the reproductive structures are exposed. In addition to the showy flowers that are insect-pollinated, there are also inconspicuous flowers that are borne underground and which self-fertilize without opening. (Thanks to Roger and Eleanor Shepard, and Sara and Warren Demont for photo op.)
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