Wildflowers of the Westborough Reservoir


Gay Wings or Fringed Polygala, Milkwort family (Polygalaceae), Native
Small spots of pinkish purple among the dead leaves on the ground in mid-May turn out to be gay wings (Polygala paucifolia), also called fringed polygala. These small evergreen plants, about four inches high, may have roots more than a foot long. The inch-long flowers have a delicate bushy fringe and two purple wings. Gay Wings

Starflower, Primrose family (Primulaceae), Native
Starflower In mid-May, the starflowers (Trientalis borealis) open. These plants dot the ground in wooded sections of the Reservoir. A pair of delicate, star-like flowers opens above a whorl of green leaves on each plant. If the weather does not get too warm, starflowers can remain in bloom for a couple of weeks.

Wild Lily-of-the-Valley, Lily family (Liliaceae), Native
Wild Lily-of-the-valley By mid- to late May, wild lily-of-the-valley (Maianthemum canadense) carpets woodsy sections of the Reservoir. Also called Canada mayflower, these small plants often spread by underground runners and grow in dense beds in the woods. They have small clusters of tiny creamy white flowers. Later they produce berries that turn from white to pale red.

Native Americans used tea made from the plant for headaches and as a soothing gargle for sore throats. The root served as a charm to win games.

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  Copyright © Anne A. Reid, 1999-2002.
  Photographs copyright © Garry K. Kessler, 1999-2002.