Myrtleleaf Milkwort

Myrtleleaf Milkwort.

Common name

Myrtleleaf Milkwort

Scientific Name

Polygala myrtifolia

Type of plant

Legumes And Peas (Family Fabaceae)

About this weed

This attractive evergreen small to medium shrub with purple flowers was initially introduced as a garden plant and is native to southern Africa. It is very hardy and is still being sold through some plant nurseries. It is noted for its antibacterial and antifungal properties.




Myrtleleaf Milkwort is a bushy shrub growing to 4 m high. It has oval shaped leaves and white & purple pea flowers in late spring and early summer. Reproduction is by seed and dispersed by birds, ants, water, soil movement and garden refuse. The time to first flowering is 3 years. Seeds remain viable in soil for up to 5 years. Fire kills mature plants but stimulates mass mass germination of the soil seed bank.

Two subspecies are present in WA; Polygala myrtifolia var. myrtifolia and Polygala myrtifolia var. grandiflora. In Western Australia P. myrtifolia var. grandiflora has not been recorded as naturalised.

Impact on Bushland

This serious bushland weed particularly likes coastal habitats and has become a real problem in South Australia and Victoria.


Found in various locations in wetter areas of the South-West Province usually in brown-orange or grey sand or loam in winter-wet gullies, roadsides and creeklines.

Priority for removal

High: major threat to the conservation values of the South-West Province.

Management (hand)

Hand pull seedlings. Fell mature plants. Follow up work removing germinating seedlings will be required for at least 5 years. Optimal time to hand weed is June to November when seedlings are germinating.

Management (herbicide)

Read the manufacturers’ labels and material safety data sheets before using herbicides.

Flowering month/s

September, October, November, December

Flower colour/s

Purple, White

Information source

Additional information

Hussey, B.M.J., Keighery, G.J., Dodd, J., Lloyd, S.G. and Cousens, R.D. (2007) Western weeds. A guide to the weeds of Western Australia, Second Edition, The Weeds Society of Western Australia, Victoria Park, Western Australia.

Myrtleleaf Milkwort images


Donations and support from the wider community help us to protect and campaign for our Urban Bushland.

Make a donation

newsletter Signup

Get the latest news and key events delivered to your inbox.

Become a Member

We are a peak environmental group in WA. One of our key strengths is our amazing group and individual members.

Become member

Urban Bushland Council WA Inc

2 Delhi Street West Perth WA 6005

PO Box 326 West Perth WA 6872

(08) 9420 7207 (please leave a message)