Portulaca oleracea (Common Purslane)
|Also known as:||Little Hogweed|
|Habitat:||sun; disturbed soils; roadsides, fields, waste places, gravel pits, gardens|
|Bloom season:||June - September|
|Plant height:||1 to 2 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FAC MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.
Flowers are single or in small clusters at the tips of branching stems, 1/8 to ¼ inch across, with 4 to 6 (typically 5) yellow petals notched at the tip and 6 to 20 yellow stamens in the center. Behind the flower are 2 or 4 green sepals that are smooth or with a few inconspicuous hairs.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are alternate, though may be crowded to appear nearly opposite or whorled, especially near branch tips. Leaves are succulent, 3/8 to 2/3 inch long, up to ½ inch wide, broadest above the middle, mostly tapering at the base, toothless, hairless except for a few inconspicuous hairs in the axils, green or red-tinged especially around the edges. Stems are stout, rubbery, smooth, typically reddish, many branched and sprawling out to 20 inches, creating dense mats.
Fruit is an oval to urn-shaped capsule up to about 1/3 inch long, containing many tiny, black seeds. The capsule splits along a seam that spans the circumference in about the middle of the capsule, the top coming off like a lid.
Primarily an urban and agricultural weed in Minnesota, Common Purslane is noted as one of the 10 most noxious weeds worldwide, growing in a wide range of conditions throughout temperate and tropical regions around the globe. Its origins are a bit hazy, however. While generally considered native to western Asia and/or Europe and an introduction to North America from European settlers, there is some evidence that it may have been here pre-settlement. In any case it is not considered native to Minnesota. Common Purslane also has the distinction of having the highest concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants of any leafy-green plant analyzed to-date, and is cultivated for its nutritional value. It is most easily distinguished from other species by the succulent leaves, stout (usually reddish) stems, sprawling habit, yellow flowers and capsules with detaching lids. It is a somewhat variable species, with numerous subspecies suggested based on stamen, seed and leaf characteristics, but these are not recognized in Minnesota. In addition, while not mentioned in our standard references, it has been our observation from local populations that finding it in flower with the yellow blooms may be more difficult than you might think. It is apparently not so uncommon for a plant to have all or mostly cleistogamous (petal-less, self-pollinating) flowers.
Please visit our sponsors
Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk in Dakota and Hennepin counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?