How to Identify Purslane


Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) can be found growing throughout North America and has been troubling gardeners since the early 1600s when it was first identified in Massachusetts, according to the University of California. It's hardy and will grow in both rich and poor soil. Discover the identifying characteristics of the purslane plant so you can be certain of the weed problem that you're facing.

Step 1

Review the plant's shape. Purslane takes on a prostrate form, creeping along the ground close to the soil surface. The plant rarely gets higher than 3 to 4 inches.

Step 2

Inspect the plant's stems. Purslane has red-hued, smooth stems that radiate out from a central point. The stems typically grow to approximately 12 inches in length, according to the University of California.

Step 3

Check the plant's leaves. Purslane stems are covered in green leaves that form on opposite sides of the stem and reach a maximum length of approximately 1 1/4 inches, according to Virginia Tech.

Step 4

Feel the plant's leaves. Purslane leaves have a thick, fleshy texture much like the leaves of a succulent plant.

Step 5

Look for flowers or seed pods. Purslane plants produce yellow flowers that measure 3/8 inches across and have five petals, according to the University of Florida. If a seed pod is present, it should be filled with black or brown seeds.

Tips and Warnings

  • When using herbicides to kill purslane, exercise caution and avoid getting the chemicals on your skin. Pre-emergent herbicides, like oryzalin and simazine, effectively keep purslane seeds from germinating, according to North Carolina State University. For post-emergent control, the university recommends spraying the plant with glyphosate-based herbicide.


  • Virginia Tech College of Agriculture: Common Purslane
  • University of California Integrated Pest Management Program: Common Purslane
  • North Carolina State University Dept of Horticulture: Vineyard Problems
  • University of Florida Extension: Purslane
  • University of Illinois Extension: Purslane-Weed It Or Eat It?
Keywords: identify common puslane, purslane plant identification, purslane plant characteristics

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.