Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Around the country there are a number of native and naturalized portulacas or purslanes. Here are details on some of those.
In some respects, this annual looks very similar to the garden purslane (Portulaca oleracea). Notched portulaca is named for the distinctive foliage, which is usually notched. Generally blooming between July and October, it has small blooms. This species is found mostly in the western half of the country. It occurs from Utah and Arizona to Texas on into Arkansas and Missouri. This occurs mostly in sandy soil and rocky glades.
Native to the Southeast, this annual is also called Smallís poprtulaca. It is found in four states. These include Virginia, both North and South Carolina, and Georgia. Within those states, this species has limited distribution. Smallís purslane occurs mainly on granite outcroppings. It is considered to be a rare and threatened species.
This tufted plant has a spreading or trailing growth habit. The branching stems can be nearly four inches in height. There are hair-like growths arising from the leaf axils. The small leaves can be either spoon-shaped or linear. The foliage is slightly smaller than that of the common moss rose.
Smallís purslane blooms throughout the summer from June through October. Mostly vivid pink, the petals can also be nearly white. The large seed capsules contain shiny blackish seeds.
This species is also an annual. Forming a wide clump, it has trailing stems. The leaves are fairly large for a purslane, around two inches long. These are usually spatula-shaped. This species is restricted to the Midwest and western states. It is wide spread in some areas, particularly Missouri and Arkansas.
The flowers open from July through September. This prefers a richer soil than some species, and is most commonly found in bottomlands.
silk cotton purslane
This annual has linear shaped leaves that are about the same size as moss rose foliage. This species is generally found in the western part of the U.S. Its range extends from Colorado and Missouri into Oklahoma southward to New Mexico and Texas. It is also found across the border in Mexico. It prefers sandy soils and barrens. This blooms from June through September. The petals are yellow with touches of orange or red.
Initially seeds were brought from Europe where this was grown as a vegetable. The species has now naturalized over a wide area of the U.S. and Canada. It is a common weed in vegetable gardens and other cultivated areas. It also occurs in disturbed or neglected ground. This plant is easily recognized by the long spreading, branching stems. These sprawl along the top of the soil. Both the succulent stems and the foliage are larger than what is found on the moss rose. This species blooms from June through November.
Moss rose (Portulaca grandiflora)
Originally native to South America, this annual has escaped from cultivation and naturalized locally in some areas of the country. Assuming it isnít crowded out by other plants, this can continue to self sow year after year. This blooms throughout the summer months.