Electronic Flora of South Australia
Electronic Flora of South Australia
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Electronic Flora of South Australia genus Fact Sheet

Family: Portulacaceae

Citation: L., Sp. Pl. 445 (1753).

Derivation: Latin portula, a small gate or door; probably alluding to the calyptra of the capsule.

Synonymy: Not Applicable

Common name: Portulacas, purslanes or pigweeds.

Succulent prostrate to recumbent or erect annual or perennial herbs, often with tuberous roots; stems spreading to erect or ascending, to 25 cm long; leaves spirally arranged to subopposite, usually sessile, succulent, terete or flat, acute to obtuse or truncate, entire, glabrous; axillary hairs short and inconspicuous or long and appearing woolly.

Flowers sessile, in 2-30-flowered terminal heads, with hairs in the axils of the scarious bracts between the flowers, surrounded by a whorl of 3-20 involucral leaves; sepals united at the base into a tube which is adnate to the lower part of the ovary, the tube circumcisses below the top of the ovary and the sepals together with petals, stamens and style finally fall off; petals 4-6, often 5, fused at the base; stamens 8 to numerous; ovary semi-inferior, ovoid to globose, ovules numerous; stigmas 3-7, on a style.

Capsule dehiscing by a circumcissile split below the summit of the ovary, the operculum falling off with the sepals and withered petals, the remaining base cup-shaped or shallower and saucer-shaped; seeds numerous, tuberculate.

Distribution:  About 100-125 species in tropical, subtropical and temperate regions of the world; about 20 species native to Australia. (Von Poellnitz (1934) Reprium nov. Spec. Regni veg. 37:240-320).

Biology: No text

Key to Species:
1. Leaves linear, terete or almost so; axillary hairs conspicuous, more than 5 mm long
P. filifolia 1.
1. Leaves obovate to oblanceolate, dorsiventrally flattened; axillary hairs inconspicuous, to 1 mm long
2. Petals 10-17 mm long, twice as long as the sepals; stamens more than 20; seeds with the tubercles of the seed coat nippled or pointed
P. intraterranea 2.
2. Petals 4-7 mm long, scarcely exceeding the sepals; stamens fewer than 20; seeds with the tubercles of the seed coat rounded
P. oleracea 3.

Author: Not yet available

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