Common finial

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Common finial
Common finial (Polygala vulgaris)

Common finial ( Polygala vulgaris )

Eurosiden I
Order : Fabales (Fabales)
Family : Finial family (Polygalaceae)
Genre : Finials ( polygala )
Type : Common finial
Scientific name
Polygala vulgaris

The Ordinary finial ( Polygala vulgaris ), also ordinary milkwort called, is a plant type from the family of polygalaceae from the genus finials ( Polygala ). The plant genus was named Polygala because it was previously assumed that consumption by cattle would lead to more milk production. So is poly much and gala also comes from the Greek and means milk.

Common finial ( Polygala vulgaris )
Stem base
Foliage leaf
Flower stalk and bract
Ovary and style
Fruit, right anterior wing removed


The common finial is only found in Europe in sparse pine forests, on alternately dry meadows, in coastal dunes, in dwarf shrub heaths and on grassy silicate . It was not infrequently observed at the roadsides. In Germany , the common finial is found scattered in the southern federal states, but rarely in the northern federal states. It is on the red list in Brandenburg , Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania , Schleswig-Holstein , Hamburg , Bremen and Saxony . It occurs in societies of the associations Violion caninae, Mesobromion and the orders Arrhenatheretalia and Molinietalia.


The common finial is a perennial herbaceous plant that reaches heights of only 5 to 25 cm and has a mostly upright stem . It is a hemicryptophyte , so it survives above the earth. Lower leaves are sometimes found in clusters, but they do not form a rosette of leaves . The upper stem leaves are slightly larger than the lower ones and of the same shape. They are always alternating on the stem.

The bracts are not hairy and are no longer than the flower stalks. There are usually more than ten individual flowers in dense racemose inflorescences . The flower buds do not protrude from the tip of the inflorescence. The hermaphrodite flowers are zygomorphic . Each individual flower has petals about 5 to 10 mm long . The color of the corolla varies between blue and purple, only rarely can purple forms appear.

Of the total of six sepals , the two large lateral ones are colored like petals and envelop almost the entire flower. They are called "wings". The large lower fringed petal is called a boat . It should serve as an approach point for the insects and simplify pollination. Within the flower on the top of the finial has a bivalve bag that holds eight stamens which are four to one another grown, and the fruit leaves surrounds. Two overgrown carpels form the upper ovary . Nectar is only excreted by special nectar glands at the base of the flower, which is why the finial can only be pollinated by relatively long-nosed insects such as bees and butterflies .

The wings are 6 to 9 mm long and 3 to 5 mm wide and only slightly protrude from the ovary. They are rounded at the front and have 6 to 20 net meshes. The shuttle has a small, slashed, multi-lobed appendage at the front. The stylus is just as long as the ovary and ends like a spoon. The stamens are arranged like a ring on it. The sharp scar is very small and sticky.

Two-lobed, two-seeded capsule fruits are formed. The seeds have a toothed aril (seed coat). The plant is a wind spreader. There is also random spread and ant spread .

The species has chromosome number 2n = 68.


The common finial is a hemicryptophyte and stem plant, i.e. i.e., it has no rosette of leaves during flowering.

The flowers are small, homogamous "butterfly flowers (boat flowers)". The larger lower petal, the "boat", serves as a pole for the insects to approach. The stylus ends in a spoon-like formation into which the anthers that pop open at the top with a hole empty the pollen. Below this is the scar as a sticky protrusion drawn out to a point. Nectar is excreted by special nectar glands only at the base of the flower, which is why the finial can only be pollinated by relatively long-nosed insects such as bees and butterflies. The pollinators achieve their goal by pushing their proboscis between the two flaps and past the "pollen spoon" and the stigma. There they wipe off the pollen they have brought with them and at the same time smear their proboscis with the adhesive, on which new pollen then sticks when the proboscis is withdrawn .; this is intended to ensure cross-pollination; however, spontaneous self-pollination is also common, partly as a result of closing movements of the flower.

The flowering period extends from May to August.

The fruits are 2-lobed, 2-seeded capsules. The up to 3 mm long and specifically heavy seeds have a toothed seed coat or aril. They are subject to random propagation or to the spread of various ants, e.g. B. by the red wood ant ( Formica rufa ). The fruit ripeness extends from July to November.


There are three subspecies in Germany:

  • Polygala vulgaris subsp. vulgaris : has blue or rarely purple flowers, is usually multi-stemmed, the upper stem leaves are slightly larger than the lower ones and have wings nailed to the base that are about as wide as the capsule fruit.
  • Polygala vulgaris subsp. oxyptera (Rchb.) Schübl. & G. Martens : usually has greenish-white, more rarely pale blue flowers, has few stems, usually grows upright, the upper stem leaves are hardly larger than the lower ones, the more pointed, 6 to 7.5 mm long, lanceolate wing can be 4 to 20 Have net mesh and the appendage of the shuttle often has 8 to 16 fringes. In addition, the inflorescence is rather loose. This subspecies also avoids limestone soils.
  • Polygala vulgaris subsp. collina (Rchb.) Borbás : contrary to what the name suggests, only rarely occurs in mountains and is mostly found in sand dunes on the coast. It is the subsp. oxyptera very similar, but usually grows prostrate . It is only about 4 to 6 mm long, elliptical-obverse-shaped wing can have 4 to 20 net meshes and the appendage of the shuttle often has 8 to 16 fringes. The basal leaves are often small and almost scale-like. The inflorescence is dense and arm-flowered.


  • Eckehart J. Jäger, Klaus Werner (Ed.): Excursion flora from Germany . Founded by Werner Rothmaler. 10th edited edition. tape 4 : Vascular Plants: Critical Volume . Elsevier, Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, Munich / Heidelberg 2005, ISBN 3-8274-1496-2 .
  • Ruprecht Düll , Herfried Kutzelnigg : Pocket dictionary of plants in Germany. A botanical-ecological excursion companion to the most important species . 6th, completely revised edition. Quelle & Meyer, Wiebelsheim 2005, ISBN 3-494-01397-7 .
  • Ruprecht Düll, Herfried Kutzelnigg: Pocket dictionary of plants in Germany and neighboring countries. The most common Central European species in portrait. 7th, corrected and enlarged edition. Quelle & Meyer, Wiebelsheim 2011, ISBN 978-3-494-01424-1 .

supporting documents

  1. a b Erich Oberdorfer : Plant-sociological excursion flora for Germany and neighboring areas . With the collaboration of Angelika Schwabe and Theo Müller. 8th, heavily revised and expanded edition. Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart (Hohenheim) 2001, ISBN 3-8001-3131-5 , pp.  642 .

Web links

Commons : Common finial  album with pictures, videos and audio files

Further pictures: picture 1 picture 2 picture 3 picture 4