Portulaca oleracea L. - Purslane

Portulaca oleracea plant

Family - Portulacaceae

Stems - From stout taproot, multiple from base, prostrate, greenish with some red tinge, branching, succulent, herbaceous.

Leaves - Alternate, sessile or very short petiolate (+/-1mm), glabrous, oblanceolate to obovate, obtuse to truncate at apex, tapering slightly to base, entire, glabrous, succulent, to 3cm long, 1.2cm broad.

Portulaca oleracea leaves

Inflorescence - Single or few flowers terminating stems.

Flowers - Petals 5, yellow, glabrous, 3-4mm long, 2.5-3mm broad, distinct. Stamens 6-10. Filaments 1mm long, translucent yellow, glabrous. Anthers yellow, .2-.3mm broad. Style 5-lobed, 1.1mm long, glabrous. Calyx tube to 2mm long, glabrous, green, 2-lobed, with transverse groove. Lobes subequal to unequal, to 4mm long, glabrous, acute. Capsule circumsissle, to +5mm long (tall). Seeds many. Placentation free central.

Portulaca oleracea sepalsCalyx.

Portulaca oleracea flower

Portulaca oleracea seedsClose-up of dehisced capsules with seeds.

Flowering - June - November.

Habitat - Cultivated and waste ground, rocky bluffs, glades. roadsides.

Origin - Native to Eurasia.

Other info. - This small plant is becoming common throughout Missouri. The succulent nature of the plant allows it to survive in habitats barren habitats.
Although I have the flower parts labeled as "petals", "sepals", and "calyx" above, this is not technically correct. The perianth is actually composed of an involucre of 2 bracts - the "sepals" above, and 4-6 petaloid tepals - the "petals" above. The ovary is partially inferior.
This species is edible (it's quite tasty) and is often called "Pusley." It was also used traditionally as an ointment for burns.

Photographs taken off Prairie View Rd., Platte County, MO., 8-1-00, and in Daytona Beach, FL., 7-2-02.


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