Purslanes

Perfoliate Springbeauty Red-maids Blinks Common Purslane

What are they?

Once considered to all be in a single family, the species of purslane shown here are now split into two families, the Portulacaceae and the Montiaceae. They are a rather variable group on first appearances, but they tend to be low-growing annuals with five-petalled flowers and fleshy stems and leaves. While some of the more show species are grown as garden plants, our only native member of the group, Blinks, is a rather uninspiring little plant that is easily overlooked.

Where are they found?

A variable bunch with a variety of origins, these are typically plants of open ground but habitat preferences are varied and are given under each species.

Identification

Though all are succulent plants with five-petalled flowers, they are very different in overall appearance and should be easy to tell apart by looking at the leaf shape and overall growth style.



Perfoliate Springbeauty      Claytonia perfoliata

Introduced from North America and common to abundant on light, sandy soils, especially in Breckland and the Suffolk Sandlings. Does well in the shade and can be particularly common in pine plantations. Flowers April to June. Lower leaves are broadly triangular or almost diamond-shaped and the flowers appear in small clusters, backed by a broadly-rounded shield which is formed by the fusion of two stem leaves.

Perfoliate Springbeauty Perfoliate Springbeauty Perfoliate Springbeauty Perfoliate Springbeauty
Habit
Habit
Flowers
Leaf


Pink Purslane      Claytonia sibirica

Introduced from North America as a garden plant and occasionally found forming low patches in shady places. Flowers April to June. Lower leaves narrow and pointed, upper leaves paired and broadly rounded. Whole plant rather fleshy.

Pink Purslane Pink Purslane Pink Purslane Pink Purslane
Habit
Habit
Flowers
Flower


Blinks      Montia fontana

Native. A tiny plant of usually acidic, sandy soils which typically grows on areas that are wet overwinter, appearing after the water has drained in the spring. Flowers April to September. Low-growing, fleshy, hairless annual or short-lived perennial with tiny white flowers, 2-3mm across. Flowers have five petals but just two sepals. Odd plants may only be a cemtimetre or two long with just a single pair of leaves and a flower but plants often grow in colonies, making them easier to spot. After flowering, the seed capsules hook over in a distinctive way.

Blinks Blinks Blinks Blinks
Habit
Habit
Flower
Seed capsule


Red-maids      Calandrinia ciliata

Introduced. Known for a number of years from a single location in North Norfolk on a field edge well away from houses and perhaps originated from seed put out for pheasants. Flowers at least May to October. Low-growing, fleshy annual with rosettes of spoon-shaped leaves. Upper stems and sepals have fringes of white hairs. Flowers brilliant, dazzling pink.

Red-maids Red-maids Red-maids Red-maids
Habit
Flower
Fringe of hairs
Leaf


Common Purslane      Portulaca oleracea

Introduced. A plant of gardens and disturbed ground which is not established in the region but appears from time to time perhaps originating from bird seed. Flowers sparingly during the warmer months, mainly July to September. Creeping, fleshy annual that is easily overlooked, even when in flower, as the bright though small flowers are not showy. Some cultivated forms have larger flowers of various colours and are sometimes grown as pot plants.

Common Purslane Common Purslane Common Purslane Common Purslane
Habit
Flower
Flower of cultivated form
Leaves


Rose-moss      Portulaca grandiflora

Introduced. Grown as a garden plant and once found surviving near Felixstowe in the 1980s. May occur again as a garden throw-out or self-seeded in urban areas. A tender plant that is unlikely to survive our winters. Flowers during the summer months. A low, creeping plant with succulent, needle-like leaves. Flowers have five petals but cultivated forms are often double-flowered, with many petals and may be any shade of yellow, pink, orange, red, or white.

Rose-moss Rose-moss Rose-moss Rose-moss
Habit
Flowers
Leaves
Leaves