Purslane flowers (Portulaca oleracea) are summer-flowering annuals. This tender plant is damaged by freezing temperatures. Purslane tolerates poor soils that are compacted. It thrives in moist areas, but survives dry spots and drought. Purslane blossoms are yellow and 3/8-inch across. These five-petaled flowers open only when touched by sunlight.
Purslane flowers are native to Persia. These plants have been cultivated for more than 2,000 years. Purslane was brought over from southern Europe to the United States.
Purslane flowers are most common in the eastern states. This plant becomes less common the farther west you go in the United States. The least common place to find purslane flowers is in the Pacific Northwest.
Purslane flowers are succulent plants with trailing, purplish-red or green stems reaching 4 to 20 inches. The stems are covered with thick leaves 1/4 to 1 1/4 inches long with a smooth edge. Clumps of purslane reach 2 feet across. Purslane flowers produce tiny oval black seeds with a white scar at one end.
Purslane is occasionally eaten as a vegetable. It has a sweet, acidlike flavor that tastes like watercress or spinach. This plant contains antioxidants, vitamins, protein and amino acids. Purslane is used in salads and ethnic cooking. The seeds are eaten raw or ground and baked into bread.
Purslane flowers are considered a weed in most gardens. Purslane creates dense mats of foliage that push out other plants. These plants reproduce from stem fragments or seeds. One purslane plant produces 240,000 seeds that stay viable for 5 to 40 years. The best control is to destroy the seedlings before they can produce seeds.