Portulaca oleracea

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Portulaca oleracea

Description

Annual herb, succulent; fibrous-rooted; stems prostrate or decumbent, spreadingto 30(-50) cm long, purplish, glabrous or with few nodal hairs of ca. 1 mm long. Leaves alternate, upper leaves often opposite; stipules inconspicuous, minutely fimbriate or absent; petiole 1-8 mm long; blade fleshy, flat, elliptical, obovate or spathulate, 0.6-4 x 0.2-2 cm, obtuse or truncate at apex, cuneate at base, glabrous. Inflorescence of terminal, solitary or clustered, sessile or subsessile flowers, clusters of up to 10 flowers. Sepals green, broadly ovate to orbicular-ovate or triangular, 2.8-5 x 2.8-4 mm, broadly keeled above, united at base, usually persistent; petals yellow, 4-5, obovate, 3-8 x 1.5-3 mm, ephemeral; stamens 6-20, filaments 1.5-1.75 mm long, anthers broadly oblongoid or globose, 0.4-0.5 mm long; ovary half-inferior, ovoid or short-conical, stigmatic branches 4-6. Fruit broadly ovoid to fusiform, ca. 4-5 x ca. 2.5 mm, circumscissile from ca. 1/3 up from base, to near middle; seeds black, cochleate, ca. 0.5-0.8 mm wide, very finely and minutely granulate or tuberculate.

Distribution

Guianas present, Old World tropics
Subcosmopolitan weed, indigenous to the Old World tropics and introduced elsewhere; in the Guianas on disturbed ground; 79 collections studied, all from the Guianas (GU: 20; SU: 39; FG: 20).

Common Name

Boni (French Guiana): posin; Creole (French Guiana): croupier, croupier blanc; English (French Guiana): akusinami, posen, pourpier; English (Guyana): hog bhajee; English (Suriname): bembe, gron-posren, gron-possie, krokot, lonia, piendjalang, porselein, pose, postelein

Uses

Sometimes cultivated as a leafy vegetable in Suriname, and the leaves also mixed with sugar or soap and used for ripening abscesses (Ostendorf, 1962). In French Guiana, the Palikur Amerindians crush the leaves and stems in water, and drink the resulting liquid as an hypotensive, whereas French Guianan Creoles use a tea of the plant as an antidiabetic (e.g., Ducatillon & Gelly 49) and digestive. They also use the whole plant as an emollient for muscular aches and make a purgative and a drink for albuminuria from the plant (Grenand et al., 1987).

Notes

No seemingly authentic Guianan specimens of Portulaca mucronata Link, (cited for the Guianas, e.g. by Lemée (1955) and Grenand (1987) for French Guiana), have been seen in this study; it is a South American yellow-flowered plant with mucronate leaves, resembling P. oleracea.