Just posted a piece on, among other things, Claytonias (miner’s lettuce and spring beauties), in which their relatives the Portulacas put in a brief appearance. Now to focus on them: Portulaca oleracea (common purslane) and Portulaca grandiflora (moss-rose).

The edible weed. From Wikipedia:

Portulaca oleracea (common purslane, also known as verdolaga, pigweed, little hogweed, “red root”, pursley, and moss rose) is an annual succulent in the family Portulacaceae, which may reach 40 cm in height.

It has smooth, reddish, mostly prostrate stems and alternate leaves clustered at stem joints and ends. The yellow flowers have five regular parts and are up to 6 mm wide. Depending upon rainfall, the flowers appear at anytime during the year. The flowers open singly at the center of the leaf cluster for only a few hours on sunny mornings. Seeds are formed in a tiny pod, which opens when the seeds are mature. Purslane has a taproot with fibrous secondary roots and is able to tolerate poor, compacted soils and drought.

Although purslane is considered a weed in the United States, it may be eaten as a leaf vegetable. It has a slightly sour and salty taste and is eaten throughout much of Europe, the middle east, Asia, and Mexico. The stems, leaves and flower buds are all edible. Purslane may be used fresh as a salad, stir-fried, or cooked as spinach is, and because of its mucilaginous quality it also is suitable for soups and stews.

The plant:


And purslane in Greek salad:


[NOAD2 on the origin of purslane: late Middle English, from Old French porcelaine, probably from Latin porcil(l)aca, variant of portulaca, influenced by French porcelaine ‘porcelain’.

That takes us to portulaca, which OED3 (December 2006) traces to a classical Latin word for ‘purslane’, either portulāca or portulacca, of obscure origin (though there’s a lengthy note with speculations, involving gates and female genitals).]

The garden flower. From Wikipedia:

Portulaca grandiflora (Moss-rose Purslane or Moss-rose), is a flowering plant in the family Portulacaceae, native to Argentina, southern Brazil, and Uruguay.

It is a small, but fast-growing annual plant growing to 30 cm tall, though usually less. … The leaves are thick and fleshy, up to 2.5 cm long, arranged alternately or in small clusters. The flowers are 2.5–3 cm diameter with five petals, variably red, orange, pink, white, and yellow.

… Numerous cultivars have been selected for double flowers with additional petals, and for variation in flower color, and it is widely grown in temperate climates as an ornamental plant for annual bedding or as a container plant. It requires ample sunlight and well-drained soils. [It thrives in hot, dry weather.] It requires almost no attention and spreads itself very easily. In places with old architecture it can grow between the stones of the road or sidewalk.

An assortment of double-flowered moss-roses:


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