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Polygala myrtifolia L.
Myrtleleaf Milkwort

Sp.Pl. 703 (1753)
Conservation Code
Not threatened
Naturalised Status
Alien to Western Australia
Name Status

Shrub, 1.5-4 m high, leaves oval. Fl. white & purple, Aug or Oct or Dec. Brown-orange or grey sand, loam. Winter-wet gullies, roadsides, creeklines.

Helen Coleman, Descriptive Catalogue, 7 April 1998


IBRA Regions
Avon Wheatbelt, Esperance Plains, Jarrah Forest, Swan Coastal Plain, Warren.
IBRA Subregions
Katanning, Northern Jarrah Forest, Perth, Recherche, Southern Jarrah Forest, Warren.
Local Government Areas (LGAs)
Albany, Armadale, Augusta Margaret River, Busselton, Cranbrook, Denmark, Esperance, Harvey, Kalamunda, Manjimup, Melville, Perth, Plantagenet, Swan, Toodyay.

Management Notes (for the Swan NRM Region)

Alternative Names. Milkwort.

General Biology. Growth form. Shrub. Reproduction. Seed. Dispersal. Birds, ants, water, soil movement, garden refuse. Time to first flowering. 3 years. Vegetative regeneration strategy. Does not resprout or produce root suckers. Seedbank persistence. Medium, 1-5 years. Fire response. Hot fire will kill mature plants. Fire stimulates mass germination of the soil seed bank.

Notes. A serious bushland weed in Victoria and South Australia, particularly of coastal habitats. Two subspecies are present in WA; Polygala myrtifolia var. myrtifolia and Polygala myrtifolia var. grandiflora. P. myrtifolia var. grandiflora has not been recorded as naturalised.

Additional information. Origin. Southern Africa. History of use/introduction. Garden escape. Similar exotic species. Polygala virgata.

Suggested method of management and control. Hand pull seedlings. Fell mature plants. Follow up work removing germinating seedlings will be required for at least 5 years. Read the manufacturers' labels and material safety data sheets before using herbicides. For further information consult the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to determine the status of permits for your situation or state.

Management Calendar

Calendar Type Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Comments
Flowering O O O O O O O O Y Y Y Y  
Fruiting Y Y O         O O Y Y Y  
Active Growth         O Y Y Y Y Y O    
Optimum Treatment           Y Y Y Y Y Y    

Legend: Y = Yes, regularly, O = Occasionally, U = Uncertain, referred by others but not confirmed.



  • Adair, R. J. & Neser, S. (1996) The potential for biological control of the South African weed Polygala myrtifolia. In Proceedings of the 11th Australian Weeds Conference. , Melbourne, Australia.
  • Brown, K. & Brooks, K. (2002) Bushland Weeds: A Practical Guide to their Management. Environmental Weeds Action Network, Greenwood.
  • Carter, R.J., Cooke, D.A., Chapman, G. & Sheridan, P. (1992) South African milkworts, Polygala spp., in southern Australia. In Proceedings of the 9th Australian Weeds Conference. Weed Society of South Australia, Adelaide.
  • Department for Environment and Heritage (2006) Environmental Weeds in the South East. Myrtle-leaf Milkwort - Polygala myrtifolia. URL: - Accessed July 2009.
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  • Moore, J.H. & Wheeler, J. (2008) Southern weeds and their control. DAFWA Bulletin 4744.
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  • Navie, S. & Adkins, S. (2008) Environmental Weeds of Australia, An interactive identification and information resource for over 1000 invasive plants. Centre for Biological Information Technology, The University of Queensland.
  • Richardson, F.J., Richardson, R.G. & Shepard, R.C.H. (2006) Weeds of the Southeast. An identification guide for Australia. R.G and F.G. Richardson, Meredith.