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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Purslane

Scientific Name: Portulaca oleracea L.

Other Names: Portulaca, Pursley, Pusley, Pussley, Wild portulaca, pourpier potager, pourpier gras

Family: Purslane Family (Portulacacae)

General Description: Annual, reproducing only by seed. A low-growing or prostrate plant with succulent reddish stems, thick leaves and small flowers. Stems and leaves flat on the ground or slightly raised, 2- 3cm (1 in.) high.

Habitat: Purslane is one of the most common weeds in gardens throughout Ontario, occurring also in row crops, waste areas and edges of driveways but not surviving under heavy shade and thus rarely seen in grain fields, hay fields or pastures. The very fleshy nature of Purslane enables it to continue flowering and ripening seeds for several days after being hoed or uprooted. Though rarely producing roots from the stem, if even a small portion of the root of an uprooted plant touches the soil, it can grow a new root system and become re-established.

Seedlings

  • Cotyledons:
    • 2- 5 mm (1/12- 1/5 in.) long
    • A half or less wide
    • Thick
    • Fleshy
    • Reddish to reddish-green
  • Bright red stalk

Stems

  • Very fleshy or watery
  • Smooth
  • Reddish-green to purplish-red
  • Repeatedly branched
  • Often forming circular mats 30- 60 cm (1- 2 ft) in diameter or larger

Leaves

  • Mostly alternate (1 per node) except the first few apparently opposite (2 per node)
  • Those near the tips of branches crowded together
  • Flat but thick and fleshy
  • Deep green to reddish-green
  • Broadest near the rounded or squared tip and narrowed towards the base
  • Completely hairless

Flowers

  • Small, 5- 10 mm (1/5- 2/5 in.) across
  • In axils of stem leaves or near the tips of branches
  • Opening only on bright sunny mornings
  • 5 small, pale yellow petals which soon fall off
  • 6-10 tiny yellowish stamens
  • 1 pistil
  • Seedpods:
    • Nearly spherical
    • About 5 mm (1/5 in.) in diameter
    • Opening by a slit that goes all the way around the seedpod just below the middle so the top part comes off as a lid
  • Seeds:
    • Numerous
    • Flattened
    • Rounded or somewhat kidney-shaped
    • About 0.6 mm (1/40 in.) across
    • Black and shiny
  • Flowers from July to September

Often Confused With
Prostrate Pigweed (Prostrate pigweed has a tougher stem, thin leaves, and tiny greenish flowers in somewhat spiny clusters in axils of leaves)

Purslane seedling Purslane leaves Purslane Purslane Purslane
Click to enlarge.