The Native Portulacas

The Native Portulacas
In America the moss rose and purslanes are introduced garden plants. In addition, some species of the portulacas are native to the U.S. Here are profiles for some of those.

Kiss-me-quick (Portulaca pilosa) is mostly an annual, but it can be perennial as well. Though it is similar to the moss rose, this has much smaller blooms. This can be either erect or spreading. The stems are up to
eight inches in length. These are branching. Its flat, linear or spoon shaped leaves are rounded and alternate. These are about an inch long. There can be prominent hairs in the leaf axils. These are especially noticeable on plants that grow in moist soils.

Kiss-me-quick blossoms aren’t quite as showy as those of the moss rose. These terminal blossoms are pink. They can occur singly or in small clusters. They have five small petals. The flowers appear from June to October. As is the case with the moss rose, the flowers will often close once the sun goes down.

The fruits are capsules. The seeds are red or reddish-black. The tips of the capsules open to reveal the seeds.

This plant is found in both dry and moist soils. These are most commonly found in sandhills and barrens, particularly dry sandy soils. In the Southeast, this occurs in North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida as well as Mississippi. Its range extends westward to Kansas and Oklahoma to New Mexico on into Mexico. In Texas, the plants are pretty widespread in the Rio Grande.

There is a cultivated form of kiss-me-quick called the shaggy garden purslane. This is best known for its very prominent tufts of hairs that give it a shaggy appearance.

Portulaca coronata is more limited in its range. It grows in a few areas of South Carolina as well as Georgia and Mississippi. This plant is similar to kiss-me-quick. However, this one has yellow blooms. It quits blooming about a month earlier as well.

There is a winged purslane (Portulaca umbraticola) that is also native to the U.S. It resembles the moss rose. This annual has smooth stems that can be eight inches in length. The plant is only two inches in height. The leaves are rather sparse and flattened.

Winged purslane blossoms open terminally at the ends of the stems. These appear in small clusters. Two inches wide, the blooms vary in color from purple or pink to yellow or orange. These have reddish tips.

The plant is named for the wing on the seed capsules.

All of these species are easy to grow from seed. Just treat the plants as you would any other kind of moss rose or purslane. Like moss rose, these species can self sow.

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