Purslane Organic Weed Control

Purslane weed

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Purslane is a low-growing weed with reddish-brown, thick, succulent stems. Purslane is a summer annual weed that thrives in hot, dry weather. It grows vigorously, forming a thick mat.

Purslane has thick, fleshy, and wedge-shaped. Small yellow flowers can bloom in the stem and leaf joints. Purslane stores water in its thick fleshy stems and leaves and is thus able to survive during dry weather.

Purslane botanical name: Portulaca oleracea

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Purslane in the garden
Purslane in the garden

Purslane description and life cycle

  • Stems grow 6 inches to 1½ feet long.
  • Stems are smooth, succulent, and prostrate; may be tinged with red.
  • Leaves fleshy, rounded to oval with smooth margins, are alternate but almost opposite on stem..
  • Leaves may grow in clusters at the stem tip.
  • Plant branches to form dense mats on the soil surface.
  • Flowers are five-petaled, pale yellow, grow in clusters in leaf axils; open in sunshine.
  • Blooms mid-summer to early fall.
  • Globe-shaped seed pods with small black seeds; a single plant can produce 50,000 seeds.
  • Reproduces by seed and by stem fragments that root in damp soil.
  • Thrives in moist conditions but can also grow in drought.
  • Stems and leaves are edible with a tart flavor; use in salads.

Pursland root system

  • Purslane has a thick taproot and fibrous secondary roots.
  • Adventitious roots can emerge from cut or broken surfaces of stem fragments allowing the plant to easily re-root if disturbed.

Purslane organic control

  • Pull by hand early in the season before taproots get a hold in the soil.
  • Hoe established plants to weaken them, but they may still reemerge if the root is left behind.
  • Do not leave pulled stems in the garden; they can re-root.
  • Do not let plants go to seed.

Purslane range

Throughout the United States and southern Canada.

Four quick ways to control weeds

  1. Weed early. Control weeds in the first month after they germinate.
  2. Weed often. Hand weed every two weeks through the season.
  3. Weed by hand when the soil is wet (best to get roots).
  4. Use a hoe if the soil is dry. Decapitate weeds before they flower and drop seed.

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Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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