Diffuse or ascending, glabrous or pubescent fleshy herbs, with terminal flowers. Sepals 2, united at the base and partly adnate to the ovary. Petals 4-6 (mainly 5), inserted on the calyx, fugacious. Stamens 7-°°, also on the calyx. Ovary many-ovuled; style deeply 3-9-cleft or parted Capsule membranous, dehiscent by a lid, many-seeded. [Latin, in allusion to the purging qualities of some species.]

A genus of about 20 species, all but 2 or 3 natives of America. In addition to the following, some 7 others occur in the southern United States. Type species: Portulaca oleracea L.

Glabrous throughout; flowers small, yellow; leaves flat.

Leaves mainly rounded at the apex; seeds minutely rugose.


P. oleracea.

Leaves mainly retuse; seeds prominently tuberculate.


P. retusa.

Pilose-pubescent especially in the axils; leaves terete

Flowers red, 4"-6" broad.


P. pilosa.

Flowers variously colored, 1'-2' broad.


P. grandiftora.

6 Portul ca Tourn L Sp Pl 445 1753 87

I. Portulaca Olerācea L. Purslane. Pussley

Fig. 1745

Portulaca oleracea L Sp. Pl. 445. 1753.

Annual, prostrate, freely branching from a deep central root, branches 4'-10' long. Leaves alternate and clustered at the ends of the branches, obovate or cuneate, 3"-10" long, rounded at the apex, very fleshy; flower-buds flat; flowers solitary and sessile, 2"-3" broad, yellow, opening in bright sunshine for a few hours in the morning; sepals broad, keeled, acutish; style 4-6-parted; capsule 3"-5" long; seeds finely rugose, about i" long.

In fields and waste places, nearly throughout our area, and in warm and tropical America. Native in the southwest, but naturalized northward. Widely naturalized as a weed in the warmer parts of the Old World. Summer.

2. Portulaca Retųsa Engelm. Notched Or Western Purslane

Fig. 1746

Portulaca retusa Engelm. Bost. Journ. Nat. Hist. 6: 154. 1850.

Closely resembles the preceding species. Leaves cuneate, generally broader, mostly retuse or emar-ginate, but some of them rounded; sepals broad, obtusish, carinate-winged; style larger, 3-4-cleft; capsule 2"-3" long; seeds distinctly tuberculate, nearly i" long; petals smaller than those of P. oleracea and the flowers opening earlier in the morning than those of that species, where the two grow together.

Minnesota (?), Missouri to Arkansas and Texas, west to Nevada. Growing in large patches, sometimes several feet in diameter. Pigweed. Summer.

Portulaca neglecta Mackenzie & Bush, of Missouri, is described as having larger flowers.

2 Portulaca Ret Sa Engelm Notched Or Western Pursl 882 Portulaca Ret Sa Engelm Notched Or Western Pursl 89

3. Portulaca Pilōsa L. Hairy Portulaca

Fig. 1747

Portulaca pilosa L. Sp. Pl. 445. 1753.

Annual, spreading or ascending from a deep root, more or less densely pilose-pubescent, with small tufts of light-colored hairs in the axils of the leaves. Branches 2'-6' long; leaves linear, terete, obtuse, 4"-8" long, about 1" wide, alternate, and clustered at the ends of the branches; sepals oblong acute, membranous, not carinate, deciduous with the operculum of the capsule; flowers red, 4"-6" broad; stamens numerous; style 5-6-parted; seeds minutely tuberculate.

In dry soil, North Carolina to Florida, Missouri, Kansas, Texas and Mexico. Also in tropical America. Summer.

4. Portulaca Grandiflōra Hook. Garden Portu-Laca Or Purslane. Sun-Plant

Fig. 1748

Portulaca grandiflora Hook. Bot. Mag. pl. 2885. 1829.

Ascending or spreading, sometimes densely pilose, but often with but a few scattered hairs and tufts of others in the axils. Branches 6'-12' long; leaves alternate, and clustered at the ends of the branches, terete, 1/2'-1' long, about 1" wide; flowers 1'-2' broad, pink, yellow, red, or white, very showy, open in sunshine only; sepals broad, obtuse, scarious-margined; petals obovate; capsule ovoid; seeds gray, shining.

In waste places, occasionally escaped from gardens. Introduced from South America. Summer. Cultivated in a large number of forms differing in color and size of flowers. Rose- or Kentucky-moss. Showy portulaca. French pussley. Wax-pinks. Mexican rose.

4 Portulaca Grandifl Ra Hook Garden Portu Laca Or  90