What Does Purslane Look Like?

Wildlife is an important and interesting part of any lawn and garden. However, some plants that look like weeds can be harmful to your garden. If you’ve ever seen a weed in your lawn and garden that you can’t identify, you’re not alone! Many homeowners struggle to identify weeds, especially the ones that grow in their lawn and garden.

One such plant is purslane. So, what does purslane look like? In this blog post, we will discuss this common weed that is often found in lawns all over the United States. While it may not look like much, purslane can be difficult to get rid of and can take over an area quickly.

If you think you have purslane in your yard or garden, it’s important to identify it correctly so that you can remove it properly. In this blog post, we will discuss and provide tips for identifying and eliminating purslane. Keep reading for more information.

What is Purslane?

Portulaca Oleracea is the scientific name for the weed Purslane, which has also been known as Common Purslane, Duckweed, little hogweed, and purslane. It’s a succulent that may be traced back to ancient India and Persia but has since been found in practically every environment around the world.

Purslane seeds have been discovered in Egyptian tombs dating back to 3150 B.C., which implies that they were used not just in Egypt but also across the Middle East for thousands of years. In fact, King Tutankhamen’s mummy had purslane seeds inside a 4000 B.C.-era clay container.

Purslane has been used in Chinese herbal medicine for at least 2,000 years, and people from all over the world have given it names and created recipes with it. However, although purslane is quite common, it may be tough to identify if you don’t know where to look for it, how it spreads, or what it looks like.

Where Does Purslane Grow?

The Purslane weed contains leaves and stems that are succulent, which means that the water is held within them. Because of this capacity to store water, as well as its taproot and fibrous secondary roots, purslane is able to thrive in drought conditions when other plants are unable to do so.

Purslane thrives in poor soil, thanks to its preference for dry and nutrient-depleted soil. It has spread across the world due to its versatile adaptation to a wide range of circumstances. It spreads via seeds and stem fragments that root at the soil’s nodes if they fall below ground level, thus it may travel considerable distances.

How To Identify Purslane?

Purslane is a low-growing plant that often forms a mat-like ground cover. It typically reaches about 10 cm (4 in) in height but can grow up to 30 cm (12 in) tall in some cases. If you think you might have this weed growing in your lawn or garden, here are few things to look for specifically that can help you identify purslane.

Visual Characteristics 

Purslane’s succulence is one of the first visual cues to look for. The stems are robust and juicy with a reddish tint, and they spread into dense mats up to 20 inches across. Succulent leaves sprout from the stem in an alternating pattern, though they may be compacted enough to appear opposite or whorled.

The spatula-shaped leaves are at their broadest at or near the middle, usually ranging from 1/2-1 inch in width and 3/8-2/3 inch in length. They are smooth and green in color, with a red tinge around the margins.

Its flowers are tiny and yellow, with 4 to 6 notched petals and a diameter of 1/8 to 1/4 inch. The flower has two or four sepals. Individual flowers or small clusters of flowers develop.

Growth Stages

Purslane flourishes in the heat of summer, when many other plants wither. It can grow flat on the ground or creep along and over and under things in its path, extending itself out horizontally. The plant is generally quite low-growing; it creates tiny mats on the surface that are difficult to remove if left unchecked too long.

It generally stays around 3 inches above the ground or lower, but some clusters can grow about 6 inches high.

Other Unique Traits

Purslane may be consumed raw as a leafy vegetable. It has a slightly tart and salty flavor, and is enjoyed across much of Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Mexico.

The stems, leaves, and flower buds may all be eaten raw or cooked. Fresh purslane may be used as a salad, stir-fried, or simmered like spinach. It is also good in soups and stews because it is slightly gelatinous or viscous when cooked. Its seeds can also be made into a seedcake.

Plants That Look Like Purslane

Other sprawling plants with reddish hues include spurges. Spurges may be found throughout the continental United States, Hawaii, and southern Canada from Quebec west to British Columbia. They’re poisonous and shouldn’t be eaten.

The most prominent feature of spurges that separates them from purslane is that spurge leaves and stems exude a white latex when broken, whereas purslane leaves and stems do not. Furthermore, the leaves of spurges are not succulent, but those of purslane are. Spurge leaves are often densely to sparsely hairy, while purslane leaves are hairless or have very few small hairs.

How to Get Rid of Purslane

The good news if you want to eliminate the purslane in your lawn is that it does not readily produce seeds all that fast. It may take years for a single purslane plant to generate thousands of seeds, so if you act quickly, you can more effectively prevent its spread.

Purslane plants should be removed with your hands as soon as possible, before the weed grows too large and before they grow to seed. You should stuff the scraps in a garbage bag and dispose of them so that they don’t grow back and re-root themselves.

You can also damage the purslane plant cell membranes with a vinegar solution, preventing them from absorbing water or nutrients. Again, they are most susceptible to the vinegar sprays when the plants are about an inch high or smaller.

If would like to spray the purslane plant with an herbicide. Any 2,4-D herbicide can work against purslane, such as the Southern Ag Crossbow Specialty Weed & Brush Herbicide.

In Summary

So, how can you tell if you have a weed on your hands or a delicious succulent? While there are some similarities between the two plants, purslane has some unique identifiers that set it apart. Hopefully this article has helped clear up any confusion and armed you with the knowledge necessary to get rid of pesky Purslane for good!

It’s important to be able to identify purslane, as it can quickly take over an area and choke out other plants. It can be difficult to get rid of purslane once it becomes established in a garden, but with some persistence and the right tools, it can be eliminated.

Be sure to keep an eye out for this weed so you can remove it before it takes over your flower beds and vegetable gardens. If you’re having trouble identifying it or getting rid of it, contact us or a local gardening service for help. We have years of experience dealing with this troublesome plant and would be happy to assist you. Thanks for reading!