Portulaca oleracea L.



CC = 0
CW = 3
MOC = 29

© SRTurner

Family - Portulacaceae

Habit - Taprooted annual forb with fibrous lateral roots.

Portulaca_oleracea_roots.jpg Roots.

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Stems - Prostrate, to 50 cm, often red, branching, succulent, glabrous.

Portulaca_oleracea_stem.jpg Stem and nodes.

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Leaves - Alternate, simple, sessile or very short petiolate. Blades 4-30 mm long, 2-15 mm wide, flattened, spatulate to obovate, oblanceolate, or oblong-oblanceolate, succulent, glabrous. Stipules absent (stem nodes glabrous).

Portulaca_oleracea_leaves1.jpg Leaves adaxial.

© SRTurner

Portulaca_oleracea_leaves2.jpg Leaves abaxial.

© SRTurner

Inflorescence - Axillary solitary flowers or small clusters, glabrous or rarely with sparse, inconspicuous, short hairs.

Portulaca_oleracea_inflorescence.jpg Inflorescence.

© SRTurner

Flowers - Calyx of two overlapping sepals 2.5-4.0 mm long (measured to the base of the ovary). Petals 5, 3-5 mm long, yellow, glabrous. Stamens 6-12. Filaments 1 mm long, translucent yellow, glabrous. Anthers yellow, 0.2-0.3 mm broad. Style 5-lobed, 1.1 mm long, glabrous.

Portulaca_oleracea_flowers.jpg Flowers.

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Portulaca_oleracea_calyx.jpg Calyx.

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Portulaca_oleracea_flower2.jpg Flower.

© SRTurner

Portulaca_oleracea_flower3.jpg Flower.

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Fruits - Capsules 5-9 mm long, 4-8 mm wide. Seeds 0.6-1.0 mm long, variously orbicular to more or less kidney-shaped, the surface smooth or more commonly appearing roughened or with minute, blunt tubercles, dark brown to black. Placentation free central.

Portulaca_oleracea_fruits.jpg Fruits.

© SRTurner

Portulaca_oleracea_seeds.jpg Dehiscent capsules with seeds.

© SRTurner

Flowering - June - November.

Habitat - Streambanks, pond margins, seeps, bluffs, upland prairies, glades, fields, ditches, gardens, lawns, sidewalks, railroads, roadsides, open disturbed areas.

Origin - Uncertain.

Lookalikes - None.

Other info. - This little plant has been collected in scattered locations in Missouri but is probably more prevalent than records indicate. It is found across the continental U.S. and Canada. It is easily recognized even when vegetative by its prostrate habit and glabrous, succulent herbage. The small yellow flowers are attractive but not often seen.

Purslane is edible and has a long history of use by humans. Partially because of this, its origin and native range are obscure. Although commonly considered an exotic weed, there is evidence for its existence in North America prior to the arrival of Columbus. All parts of the plant are edible and tasty (provided they have not been sprayed with herbicide), and it is used in many contemporary cultures as an addition to salads or as a potherb. The flavor is somewhat tart due to its content of oxalic and malic acids. Another common name within the culinary context is "pusley." Tha plant has also been 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 (DETenaglia); also at Matson Hill County Park, St. Charles County, MO, 8-11-2012, in Missouri River floodplain near I-70, St. Louis County, MO 9-28-2017, and near Labadie, Franklin County, MO, 8-25-2020, 9-03-2020, and 7-10-2022 (SRTurner).