Sonoran Desert Naturalist >>> Field Guide >>> Sonoran Desert Flora >>> Portulacaceae >>> Portulaca oleracea

Common Purslane

Portulaca oleracea
(Portulaca retusa)

Photo © by Michael Plagens

Photographed in the foothills of the New River Mountains north of Carefree, Arizona, USA, October 2009.

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ANNUAL: Annual that appears in late spring or in summer after rains arrive. Grows mostly prostrate and spreading on soil.

FLOWERS: Bright yellow flowers usu. with five petals. Below the yellow petals are two reddish sepals that enclose unopened flowers

LEAVES: Fleshy and succulent ovate leaves supported on fleshy, reddish stems. On drying, leaves will flatten and be less succulent.

RANGE: Fairly common on rocky slopes and in washes in the upper Sonoran Desert after periods of good precipitation. Occasionally a weed in gardens and agricultural areas. Cosmopolitan distribution. Minute characters separated P. retusa from P. oleracea and now it appears that the two varieties integrade completely and P. retusa has been synonymized.

FRUIT: Dry capsule with many black or brown seeds opening by a circular suture near base.

UNARMED. No thorns.

Portulacaceae -- Purslane Family

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2008