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Chalk Milkwort

Found amongst short turf on chalk cliffs and downs in southern England.


  • Chalk Milkwort: milking it for what it is wort

    Post date: Wednesday, 23 November, 2016 - 21:14

    In May the short turf on the cliff tops of the chalky Dorset coast show patches of this delightful little plant, the chalk milkwort (Polygala calcarea). Whilst milkworts are quite easy to identify, separating the three British species is not so easy! The differences are quite small and it takes a good botanist to spot the minor variations between them. 

    For the lesser botanist like me then habitat is the best guide but certainly not the most accurate. In general however, chalk milkwort grows amongst short grazed turf on chalk in southern England; heath milkwort ... yes, grows on acid soils and especially heathland and is common on the Dorset heaths and elsewhere it is likely to be common milkwort! Common milkwort does also occur on the chalk as well as heathland though! Just to add to the "interest" heath milkwort is also known as thyme-leaved milkwort. Not only that, all the species occur frequently in a mauve colour as well as the lovely true blue, quite often growing quite close to each other. 
    Regardless of which of the species it is, in my opinion it is well worth getting down on your knees to have a closer look at.

Common Name Chalk Milkwort
Scientific Name Polygala calcarea
Species Group Complex Flowers
Interest Level
Look for
Identification Notes
Primary Habitat
Family Milkwort family - Polygalalaceae
Status Rare
Flower Colour Group Blue
  • 05 - May
  • 06 - June
  • 07 - July
  • 08 - August
  • 09 - September
Preferred Environment
Look for Tiny plant with blue flowers in short turf
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Notebook Distribution Map Sites List Some Charts Some Photographs Recent Records Guidance Notes

To see related species click here: 

Complex Flowers