Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Annual or perennial, semi-succulent herbs or shrubs, mostly branched, creeping or erect, occasionally rooting at nodes, some with woody stems at base or with a tuberous main root. Leaves simple, alternate and spirally arranged or opposite, subsessile, obovate or linear-terete or elliptic, entire. Nodes in some with axillary hairs or scales. Flowers in terminal and or axillary clusters (capituli) or in corymbose cymes or thyrses, dichasia, or rarely solitary, 4-or 5-merous, bisexual actinomorphic, bracteate or not, bracts leafy or membranous, bracteoles hairy or scarious. Sepals 2 (in some extra Indian genera 4 - 8), cymbiform, deltoid to obovate, imbricate, carinate or not, deciduous, connate at base and confluent with petals and stamens, partly enveloping ovary. Petals 4(-6 or more in cultivars), mostly obovate, subequal, free or shortly connate, imbricate, fugaceous or macrescent, variously coloured. Stamens (1 -) 3 - many in one or more whorls, filaments basally connate; anthers 2- or 4-loculed, dorsifixed, dehiscence longitudinal. Ovary superior or semi-inferior, unilocular, ovules 4 many on free central placenta; style apically 3 - 5-armed. Capsules globose, ovoid or conical, dehiscing valvular or circumscissile with operculum. Seeds mostly numerous, reniform to orbicular, minutely tubercled or smooth.

Cosmopolitan, ca 15 genera and 200 species; 2 genera and 8 species in India.

Notes. Most of the species occur as adventives or weeds in waste places, or cultivated as ornamental and food plants.

Literature. CAROLIN, R. (1987). A review of the family Portulacaceae. Australian J. Bot. 35: 383 - 412. ENGELMANN, G. (1850). Plantae Lindheimeriarae. Bost. J. Nat. Hist. 6: 154. GEESINK, R. (1971). Portulacaceac. ln: STEENIS, C.G.G.J. VAN, Fl. Males. I, 7: 121-133. KOWAL, T.(1967). Studia nad morfologia i anatomia naison Portulacaceae. Rchb. Monogr. Bot. 12: 1 - 48. MC NEIL, J. (1974). Synopsis of a revised classification of Portulacaceae. Taxon 23: 725 - 728. NYANANYO, B.L. (1986). Taxonomic significance of stomatal complex in the Portulacaceae. Feddes Repert. 97: 763 - 766. PAX, F. & K. HOFFMANN (1934). Portulacaceae. In: Engler, A. & H. Harms, Die Naturlichen Pflanzenfam. ed. 2, 16c: 234 .262. STENER, E. (1944). Cytogenetic studies on Talinum and Portulaca. Bot. Gaz. 105: 374 - 379.

Notes. One of the nine families of angiosperms which are known to possess red and yellow pigments, the betacyanins and betaxanthins in their floral and vegetative parts Mabry, T. J. The betacyanins and betaxanthine. In: Swain, T. (ed.) Comparative Phytochemistry, 231 - 244. 1966.

portulaca grandiflora is a common ornamental plant. P. oleracea is used as vegetable and also medicmally (leaves used for local application to swellings and bruises and as a poultice for abscesses and boils; plant juice is used for treating ear ache, toothache and syphilis). Talinum triangulare is often cultivated in gardens and farms as a substitute for spinach; leaves and stems are eaten as salad. Portulacaria afra is introduced in India as a hedge or border plant in gardens.


1a. Ovary semi-inferior; capsules opening by circumscissile operculum; seeds usually tuberculate; leaves less than 2 cm broad 1. Portulaca
b. Ovary superior; capsules dehiscing by valves splitting downwards; seeds usually smooth; leaves more than 2 cm broad 2. Talinum

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