Common Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is a trailing weed found in various parts of the world. While it is thought to be native to North Africa and the Middle East, its ability to thrive in poor soil conditions means that it has spread across India, the Americas, and Europe. It is also known, variously, as pigweed, little hogweed, red root, moss rose, and parsley.
It grows in abundance throughout America and seems to prosper just as easily on sidewalks and roadsides as it does in lawns and flowerbeds. Common purslane is currently found in every single county of Illinois. It also grows freely across California and Massachusetts.
Though the plant is considered to be a weed in the United States, it is an unusual species, because it can be eaten as a leaf vegetable. It is cultivated for this purpose in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. It has a slightly sour taste and is often cooked in soups and stews.
Common purslane is a fast-growing herbaceous annual with thick and shiny leaves. It causes problems for gardeners because it is such a prolific seeder. A single plant can spread across a wide area. Plus, the species has the ability to project its seeds outwards from the mother plant, rather than just releasing them.
If you think that you might have common purslane in your garden, you are advised to remove it with hand pulling. You can identify it by looking for the following features. The weed is a trailing plant but can grow up to approximately 10 centimeters in height. A typically sized plant will have a ‘trailing’ ground mat of up to 6’’ tall and 2’’ wide.
The leaves are shiny, thick, and roughly oval-shaped, with the side connected to the stem becoming progressively thicker and rounder along the length. The stalks are short (about 5-30mm long) and sometimes carry a pinkish, reddish tone.
The flowers appear between May and September. They can emerge both individually and in small groups of 2-5. They are located close to the stem tip and are easy to spot because they are a bright yellow color. This flower species only opens for a few hours in the morning or afternoon, unless the climate is hot and sunny.
As already mentioned, common purslane presents problems for weed control and lawn maintenance, which is why hiring a lawn service is recommended. It is an extremely hardy broadleaf weed. It can be removed with hand pulling, but any piece of the plant left behind will re-root and continue to grow. Once uprooted, the weed should be bagged and kept separate from compost piles.
If uprooting does not work and the weed continues to disrupt lawn care, try spreading a heavy layer of mulch over the problem area. Common purslane seeds need light to germinate, so this could be an effective way to prevent new shoots from appearing. The hiring of a lawn care service is recommended to take care of this weed.