Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Polygala virgata Thunb. var. speciosa Harv.

Frost hardy erect shrub with reed-like stems, narrow leaves and purple flowers borne on conspicuous racemes, to 15cm long.  The variety speciosa has purplish flowers with spreading pedicels.  To 2m.  [RHSD, Hortus, Hilliers’].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘The finest species known of the genus; recently introduced into our gardens, and not incorporated in any systematic arrangement of vegetables.  Native of the Cape of Good Hope, where specimens have been collected by the late Mr. Masson, and deposited in Sir Joseph Banks’s Herbarium by the name we have adopted.  A greenhouse shrub, growing to the height of six or seven feet, perhaps higher, branching upwards with numerous rushy twigs, generally thickened or swollen towards the end, altogether reminding us of those of the Spanish Broom.’  [BR f.150/1816]. 

‘In growth it is straggling, and the branches naked: at their extremities they are loaded with flowers during the months of May and June, when it makes a splendid appearance.’  [LBC no.621/1822].  Introduced to Britain in 1814.  [PD].  BM t.1780/1815.

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [T.774/1843].


Polygala virgata Vell. = Polygala lancifolia A.St.-Hil., from Brazil.

Published Mar 22, 2009 - 05:08 PM | Last updated Mar 24, 2010 - 03:45 PM

Illustrated are the reed-like stems, narrow leaves and raceme of purple flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.1780, 1815.

Polygala virgata Thunb. var. speciosa Harv. | BM t.1780/1815 | BHL

Family Polygalaceae
Region of origin

South Africa

  • Polygala speciosa Sims
  • Polygala simplex Burch.
Common Name


Name in the Camden Park Record

Polygala speciosa 

Confidence level high