Desert Portulaca

Portulaca halimoides

Summary 7

By Larissa, Menaul School

Portulaca halimoides is a species of purslane known by the common name silkcotton purslane. It is native to the deserts of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, as well as parts of Central and South America. It is a fleshy annual herb producing a branching stem spreading to a maximum length around 25 centimeters. It is often pink or red in color and there are strands of woolly hairlike trichomes at nodes along the stem...

Background/History 8

Scientific Name: Portulaca halimoides L.
Common Names: Silkcotton Purslane
Family Name: Portulacaceae
Group: Dicot
Plant Symbol: POHA5

Plant Botanical information 8

Other common names include: Silk-cotton Purslane and Sinkerleaf Purslane.
Plant structure
Leaves: usually simple, alternate or opposite, sometimes stippled (small dots). The leaves are thick, cylindrical, blunt-tipped and are up to 2 centimeters in length and green to red in color. Leaf shape is usually oblong or lanceolate.
Flowers: The flower shape is obovate. They occur in clusters at the tips of the stem branches 0.5 to 1.2 centimeters in diameter. The color of the petals can range from darkish pink to purple. 3-8 mm diam and the petals are usually yellow.
Stamens: are in size of 5-12 millimeters but can reach up to 37 millimeters.
Stigma: can be of size between 3-6 millimeters.
Roots: Fibrous
Stem: prostrate to suberect, often pinkish, succulent; trichomes conspicuous at nodes and in inflorescence.

Plant Ecology 8

This specie is found in tropical areas and warm temperate regions. Purslane can be eaten raw or cooked and lends itself to salads and lightly stir-fried dishes.
USA Distribution: AR, AZ, CA, CO, D, NM, NV, OK, TX, UT, VA (Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Mexico, Central America, South America).
Here’s a link to a more clear and bigger map of how Portulaca halimoides L. are distributed in the USA:

Plant uses (medicinal) 8

• In Brazil it has been used as a traditional remedy to cause diuresis (increased urine production), antipyresis (medication used to reduce body temperature) and analgesia (inability to feel pain).
• In rats, certain extracts from this plant help increase potassium excretion without a concomitant change in water diuresis or sodium excretion in rats.
• Can be used to treat renal failure.

Sources 8

“Natural Resources Conservation Services.” Plants Profile for Portulaca Halimoides (Silkcotton Purslane),
“Portulaca Halimoides.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia
Foundation, 5, February 2018,

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Nathan Taylor, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC),
  2. (c) lucyliang1, all rights reserved, uploaded by lucyliang1,
  3. (c) lucyliang1, all rights reserved, uploaded by lucyliang1,
  4. (c) lucyliang1, all rights reserved, uploaded by lucyliang1,
  5. (c) lucyliang1, all rights reserved, uploaded by lucyliang1,
  6. (c) lucyliang1, all rights reserved, uploaded by lucyliang1,
  7. Adapted by smiller33 from a work by (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA),
  8. (c) lucyliang1, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA)

More Info

iNat Map

Roots fibrous
Color pink, yellow
Flower obviate