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Statewide IPM Program, University of California

Common purslane  (Portulaca oleracea)

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Life stages of Common purslane mature plant seedling flower seeds

Common purslane, a summer annual broadleaf plant grows rapidly in spring and summer and is an important agricultural weed. It is found throughout California to about 4600 feet (1400 m) and is common in agricultural areas and other disturbed places. Although it thrives under dry conditions, common purslane competes well under irrigated conditions. Plants prefer loose, nutrient-rich, sandy soil. Many regional biotypes are recognized as varieties or subspecies. Common purslane's distinctive succulent foliage is unlikely to be confused with other weed species. The purslane sawfly, Schizocerella pilicornis, and a leafminer weevil, Hypurus bertrandiperris, are two accidentally introduced biological control agents that have become widespread in California. Where the purselane sawfly has been established, the California Department of Food and Agriculture has rated it as providing excellent control of common purslane populations.


Orchards, vineyards, crop fields, landscaped areas, gardens, roadsides and other disturbed sites.


Cotyledons (seed leaves) are egg shaped to oblong, hairless, succulent, about 1/13 to 1/5 of an inch (2–5 mm) long, and sometimes tinged red. Leaves are stalkless, or nearly so, and are opposite to one another along the stem.

Mature plant

The mature plant grows prostrate to spreading, up to 3-1/3 ft (1 m) in length, and has many succulent branches, starting from the base. Leaves are egg to spatula shaped, succulent, stalkless or have very short stalks, about 1/5 inches to 1-1/5 inches (5–30 mm) long, and sometimes their edges are red-tinged. Leaves are arranged either opposite one another or alternate along the stem.


Flowering takes place from May through September. Single flowers or clusters of two to five, are found at stem tips. The flowers are small, yellow, usually have five petals, and typically open only on hot, sunny days from midmorning to early afternoon.


Fruits consist of almost round to egg-shaped capsules, usually about 1/6 to 1/3 of an inch (4–8 mm) long that open around the middle to release many seeds.


Seeds are tiny, less than 1/25 of an inch (1 mm) in diameter, circular to egg shaped, flattened, and brown to black with a white point of attachment. Numerous seeds are produced.


Reproduces by seed and sometimes by stem fragments.

Related or similar plants

  • Unlikely to be confused with other weed species.

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