Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Common Purslane: Portulaca oleracea

Weed Description:   Prostrate, fleshy, succulent summer annual that is able to tolerate poor, compacted soils and drought.  Common purslane is a common weed of gardens, horticultural and agronomic crops and is found throughout the United States.

Roots:  Taproot with fibrous secondary roots.

Seedling:   Cotyledons oblong, succulent and without hairs (glabrous).  Young leaves opposite with each succeeding pair 90 from the preceding pair.  Young leaves maroon or maroon-tinted on lower surface.
Leaves:  Alternate or opposite, 1/4 to 1 1/4 inches long, rounded at apex and narrowed to the base (spatulate).  Leaves are thick, succulent and fleshy, with smooth margins.

Stems:  Succulent, smooth, prostrate, much-branched, purplish-red or green, 4 to 20 inches long and without hairs.

Flowers:  Yellow in color with 5 petals, 5-10 mm wide, that open only when sunny.  Flowers are found alone in the leaf axils or clustered at the ends of the branches.

Fruit:  An oval, many-seeded capsule (4-8 mm long by 3-5 mm wide) that splits open around the middle.

Identifying Characteristics:  Prostrate growth habit in combination with the fleshy, succulent nature of this weed helps to distinguish it from most other plants.