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Purslane Vs Portulaca: What’s The Difference?

As well-known ground covers, purslanes and portulacas are two of the most popular choices for gardens. However, these two plants create confusion for many gardeners, and a lot of them wonder if purslane and portulaca are the same plants. We were curious about this as well, so we researched this topic to find the answers for you.

Purslanes and Portulacas are two different plants, but they are related to each other. They both share the same genus Portulaca, but they look different from each other. While they both have brightly colored flowers, purslanes are distinguished by their thick, petal-shaped flat leaves. Portulacas, on the other hand, have thin needle-shaped leaves.

Distinguishing these two plants is important, especially if you are looking for a specific look for the flowers in your garden. In this post, we will be talking about the differences between purslanes and portulacas. We will also be discussing which of the two will be your best choice, so keep reading and enjoy this post!

Purslane Vs Portulaca: What's The Difference?

Comparison between Purslane and Portulaca, Purslane Vs Portulaca: What's The Difference?

Both low-growing and ground-covering plants, purslanes and portulacas are two of the most popular choices for garden beds. These flowers are known for their colorful blooms and they are easy to care for. However, purslanes and portulacas are often confused with each other, so what is the difference between the two?

Purslanes and portulacas both come from the same genus Portulaca, which has over a hundred other species. They are typically found in the tropics and warm temperate regions, but they can grow in certain zones in the US. 

The two plants share the same genus, but they have completely different traits. Typically, purslanes are known as edible plants. Portulacas or more popularly known as moss rose is a popular ornamental plant. However, they do share some similarities, which is why a lot of people confuse them.

Purslane

Purslane or common purslane, medicinal properties

Portulaca oleracea, more popularly known as common purslane is a weedy plant that grows in various places. They can be seen in North America, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent. Purslanes can grow in cultivated gardens and flower beds, but it is not unusual to see them growing wild on roadsides or other undisturbed places.

While this plant has become a popular addition to flower gardens, they have been used as a food and medicinal plant since 4,000 years ago. They are chock full of omega-3 fatty acids and high amounts of vitamins A and C. Research also shows that they are rich in iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants which is why it is favored as both food and medicine.

One of the significant differences between purslane and portulacas is their leaves. Purslane is known for its thick and flat, petal-like succulent leaves. They also have different colored flowers, but the most common purslane that are edible have yellow flowers with 4 to 5 petals and are notched at the tips.

Portulaca

Colorful flower Grandiflora, Japanese Rose or Moss Rose

Portulaca grandiflora, otherwise known as moss rose is an annual plant that is drought and heat tolerant. They can be seen growing in places that are hot and dry like Uruguay, Southern Brazil, and the plains of Argentina. Their heat-tolerant nature also allows them to grow in other warm, tropical places.

These flowers are mainly cultivated for their showy, colorful flowers which is why they are popular in garden beds. They come in single or double-type petals that are paper thin and delicate. Different cultivars and hybrids have been developed and nowadays, it's not surprising to see different kinds of moss rose hybrids in many gardens.

As for their leaves, moss rose have thin, needle-like semi-succulent leaves. Unlike the closely related purslane, they are not edible. Moss rose is popular as an ornamental plant, mainly for their rich, colorful flowers. Some variants and hybrids of moss rose can be poisonous to pets and young children so caution is advised.

Which Should I Choose—Purslane Or Portulaca?

Between the two, purslane and portulaca are both excellent choices for your garden. They are both easy to grow and maintain, plus they are both drought-resistant. Of course, their major differences can significantly change the choice of what you should plant in your garden.

If you are looking for a hardy, easy-to-grow plant that covers a lot of space quickly, then the purslane may be a good choice. They are great ground covers and they can grow in almost any soil. They like water, but they can also tolerate drought fairly well.

Purslane is also great to have if you want to have access to an edible vegetable. This is the reason why purslane is also great to add to your home vegetable garden. If you want to grow purslane as a vegetable, make sure to water the plant regularly so that the leaves will be palatable.

For those who are looking for something showy and grand for their garden, then the portulaca may be a better choice. These brightly-colored flowers are great in flower beds. The flowers open up during the daytime, but they do close their petals and fold when the sun sets. However, you may be able to find hybrids that have open flowers all day long.

Does Purslane Have A Different Name?

Purslane may be eaten as a leaf vegetable

When shopping for purslane, you may end up seeing them with different names. They have different names based on how they are being sold—as either a plant or as a vegetable. 

Some garden stores will sell purslane as garden purslane or beldroega. You can also ask them for common purslane, as they are still popular using that name.

However, they can also be called little hogweed, money plant, or pot purslane. Quirkier names may also include children's spinach or the jump up and kiss me plant.

What Are The Variants Of Portulaca?

Grandiflora, Japanese rose on the garden

There are many variants of the Portulaca that are readily plantable in gardens. However, the most popular variant is the Portulaca grandiflora or moss rose, so we will show you different varieties of this particular plant. 

Get these moss rose seed mix on Amazon.

Most moss rose plants grow as a single variety or mixed varieties. Typically, you can get seeds or seedlings from your local garden store if you are looking for a specific type of moss rose. Here are some of the common varieties you might encounter while shopping for seeds:

  • 'Afternoon Delight' - this variety grows 2-inch wide blooms that keep their petals open longer in the afternoon and can last until the evening. 
  • 'Calypso Mix' - this moss rose variety comes with double blooms in pretty shades of reds, pinks, oranges, yellows, and sometimes some blue and white.
  • 'Mojave' - these flowers are quite big and they come in a variety of colors like tangerine, yellow, pink, or white.
  • 'Sundance' - this variety loves being open during the daytime with semi-double flowers and it has more petals.
  • 'Duet' series - taking their quality from their name, the duet series offers bicolor single flowers in a mix of yellow and pink, or yellow and red.
  • 'Happy Hour' series - with this name, this variety blooms earlier than other varieties at an earlier hour. Their colors are also reminiscent of tropical colors like banana, coconut, rosita, lemon, and orange and they come in double blooms.
  • 'Fairy Tale' series - this variety of moss ross looks like a pompom with flat, bright outer petals. Their names come from fairy tale characters like Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty.
  • 'Tequila' series - this moss rose variety is a hybrid, and it can come in various colors although the most common ones are red with yellow centers (like the cocktail Tequila Sunrise.) They can tolerate cooler conditions.
  • 'Sundial' series - another variety that can tolerate cool conditions, this variant will bloom early and they have pretty striped flowers.
  • 'Yubi Summer Joy' series - this variety of moss rose is big and they can span up to 3 inches across. The flowers will remain open throughout the day and they have a trailing quality along with broad leaves.

Wrapping Things Up

Whichever kind of Portulaca you choose, these flowers will bring color and life to your garden. The purslane plant will be a great addition as you will be able to harvest some vegetables for your home. If you're looking to have color in your home, portulacas will be a great addition to your flower beds, as they will bloom throughout the day.

Would you love to learn more about your portulaca plants? We have a few articles that might interest you:

Why Is My Portulaca Losing Leaves?

Does Portulaca Come Back Every Year?