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FOC | Family List | FOC Vol. 5 | Portulacaceae

1. Portulaca Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 445. 1753.

马齿苋属 ma chi xian shu

Portulaca oleracea

Credit: Harvard University Herbaria

Herbs annual or perennial. Stems prostrate or decumbent; nodes or leaf axils with scales, bristles, and/or hairs, sometimes short and inconspicuous. Leaves alternate or opposite, usually sessile, flat or terete. Inflorescence a terminal head of sessile, solitary or clustered flowers, subtended by an involucre of leaves. Sepals connate at base into tube, persistent but inconspicuous. Petals 4 or 5(-8+), free or shortly connate at base. Stamens 4-100, adnate to base of petals. Ovary half-inferior. Stigma 2-9-lobed. Capsule circumscissile, sessile, globose or nearly so. Seeds mostly glossy black or iridescent gray, less often brown, orbicular-reniform, minute, often tuberculate, without caruncle.

About 150 species: more arid tropical and subtropical regions, particularly Africa and South America, a few species extending into temperate regions; five species (two endemic, one introduced) in China.

Portulaca grandiflora Hooker, a native of South America, is cultivated in China as a popular garden flower. Outside the Flora area it is known to escape from cultivation. It is easily recognized by the terete leaves and large flowers, 2.5–4 cm wide, which often have more than five petals that can be red, purple, yellow, or white.

1 Leaves opposite; stems readily disarticulating at nodes; petals 4.   5 P. quadrifida
+ Leaves alternate; stems not disarticulating; petals 5 or more.   (2)
2 (1) Leaves terete-subulate; flowers more than 2 cm in diam.   1 P. pilosa
+ Leaves flat; flowers less than 1 cm in diam.   (3)
3 (2) Leaf axils with a few inconspicuous stiff bristles; leaves 10-30 mm; flowers often in clusters of 3 or more; mature seeds glossy black, never iridescent.   2 P. oleracea
+ Leaf axils conspicuously hairy; leaves 3-10 mm; flowers mostly solitary, rarely as many as 3 together; mature seeds often ± iridescent.   (4)
4 (3) Petals red; stigma 3-lobed; stamens 10.   3 P. insularis
+ Petals yellow; stigma 5-lobed; stamens 25-30.   4 P. psammotropha

Lower Taxa


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