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Portulaca oleracea (Common Purslane)


Scientific Name

Portulaca oleracea L.

Common Names

Common Purslane, Purslane, Moss Rose, Pursley, Little Hogweed, Portulaca Weed, Pigweed, Wild Portulaca, Verdolaga, Red Root


Portulaca oleracea subsp. oleracea, Portulaca neglecta, Portulaca retusa, Portulaca consanguinea, Portulaca fosbergii, Portulaca hortensis, Portulaca intermedia, Portulaca latifolia, Portulaca marginata, Portulaca officinarum, Portulaca olitoria, Portulaca parvifolia, Portulaca pilosa var. marginata, Portulaca retusa, Portulaca sativa, Portulaca suffruticosa, Portulaca sylvestris

Scientific Classification

Family: Portulacaceae
Subfamily: Portulacarioideae
Genus: Portulaca


Portulaca oleracea is an annual succulent that frequently branches at the base and forms a spreading mat. It grows up to 6 inches (15 cm) tall and up to 2 feet (60 cm) in diameter. Stems are round, thick, fleshy, and range in color from light green to reddish-brown. Leaves are fleshy, oval to spoon-shaped, and up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) long. They are usually shiny green, sometimes becoming reddish-purple in bright sunlight. Flowers are yellow and up to 0.25 inches (0.5 cm) in diameter. They open singly at the center of the leaf cluster for only a few hours on sunny mornings. Seeds are formed in a tiny pod, which opens when the seeds are mature.


It is grown as an annual plant, so it has no USDA hardiness zone.

How to Grow and Care

Portulacas tolerate many kinds of soil but prefer sandy, well-drained soil and love the full sunlight. These plants are excellent for high heat and drought tolerance and will seed and spread themselves very well. Some control methods may be needed to keep Portulacas from becoming invasive to areas they are not wanted. These wonderful plants do spread easily.

These succulents require no attention at all when growing and flowering. However, you should remove them from the garden before plants have a chance to set seeds as they may take over the garden. You do not need to water often for proper Portulaca care. The cylindrical foliage of the plants retains moisture very well. Thus, regular watering is not required. When they are watered, just a light watering will do, as their root zone is very shallow.

Sow the seeds on the soil surface following the last frost of spring. Ideally, these plants should be grown in a sunny part of the garden. If starting Portulaca indoors, then start about one and a half months in advance.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Portulaca.


Portulaca oleracea has an extensive distribution, from North Africa and Southern Europe through the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent to Malesia and Australasia.

Subspecies and Cultivars


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