Donaldson, S. and Hanson Mazet, W. 2010, A Northern Nevada Homeowner’s Guide to Identifying and Managing Common Purslane, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, FS-10-26

Other common names

Little hogweed, pigweed, parsley, wild portulaca, etc.

Scientific name

Portulaca oleracea

Family

Portulacaceae

Description

Common purslane is a fleshy plant that grows in a low, spreading mat.

Growing common purslane

Typical plant growing in a garden. Photo by W. Hanson Mazet.

Leaves

Teardrop‐shaped leaves are smooth, fleshy and shiny, and may have red margins.

Common purslane leaves

The leaves are fleshy and succulent, and the stems are pinkish. Photo by S. Donaldson.

Stems

Pinkish‐red and smooth. Stems radiate from the center of the plant.

Flowers

Tiny, yellow, with five petals. Occur where leaves join the stem. Flowers open only in the sun. Blooms from summer to fall.

Common purslane flower

Flowers are tiny, yellow and open only in the sun. Photos by S. Donaldson.

Seeds

Tiny and black; can remain dormant in the soil for years.

Roots

Has a short taproot.

Native to

Europe; has naturalized in much of the United States.

Where it grows

Gardens, lawns, landscapes and other moist sites. It will also grow in cracks in the pavement.

Common purslane growing with other weeds

It’s not uncommon to see purslane growing with other weeds, such as spotted spurge (shown at right and lower left). Photo by S. Donaldson.

Life cycle

Summer annual (sprouts in spring and summer)

Reproduction

Reproduces by seed. One plant can produce 240,000 seeds.

Common purslane seedling

Seedlings have fleshy leaves. Photo by S. Donaldson.

Control methods

Once established, common purslane can be very difficult to control due to the large number of seeds produced, so preventing establishment of this weed is essential. Control should focus on removing seedlings before flowering occurs.

Mechanical

Dig, pull or hoe plants. The weed can reroot after cultivation, so it is essential to remove pulled material.

Cultural

Mulching with landscape fabric or 3 or more inches of organic mulch to exclude light can be effective. Soil solarization can help reduce the number of seeds in infested garden beds during hot summer months.

Biological

A sawfly eats the leaves of the plants, but has not provided good control in our region. Large amounts of purslane can be toxic to livestock and people.

Chemical

Spot‐treat seedlings or young plants with broadleaf‐selective herbicides. Use a surfactant according to label directions. Pre ‐emergent herbicides may be used to manage sites with many seeds.

References

  • Cudney, D.W., C.L. Elmore and R.H. Molinar. 2007. Common Purslane Management Guide, UC IPM ANR Publication #7461, IPM.
  • DiTomaso, J.M. and E.A. Healy. 2007. Weeds of California and Other Western States. University of California Publication 3488.
  • Rumph, M. and M. Schat. 2009. HPIPM: Common Purslane. Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health, U. of Georgia, Bugwood Wiki.
  • Whitson, Tom D. (editor). 2002. Weeds of the West. University of Wyoming, Jackson, Wyoming.

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