You can purchase Paraguayan purslane (Portulaca amilis) and multi-colored cultivars of this succulent groundcover at almost any garden center. This weedy tropical immigrant from South American is shown above “volunteering” at Treasure Shores Park in 2017. Its range in the U.S. extends from Virginia to Florida and Louisiana. It is thought to have “hitchhiked” originally to Fort Bragg and military bases in Fayetteville, North Carolina after military exercises in South America.
Florida is home to 6 species of purslane (members of the Portulacaceae family), according to the Florida Plant Atlas. Paraguayan purslane and rose moss (Portulaca grandilfora) are non-native. The other 4 species are native, and 2 of them occur in Indian River County.
On a visit to Treasure Shores Park on 8/16/2020, we encountered a pretty patch of kiss-me-quick (Portulaca pilosa). Its pink flowers open only for a short-time in the morning, so it gets called kiss-me-quick. Also known as pink purslane, this annual or short-lived perennial was growing in a thick, attractive mat in a sandy, sunny spot. Note the attractive tufts of whitish hairs in the leaf axils, which give rise to the common name shaggy portulaca.
Jennifer Mina (Class of 2009) of Sebastian talked about how she collected this lovely little plant from roadsides and neighbor’s grass for use as a groundcover in her yard. Those neighbor’s undoubtedly consider this interloper to be a weed in their grass. Click here to read a blog post about this use from a Pasco County Extension Agent. Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder!
Shown above is the other purslane that grows in Indian River County: Little hogweed (Portulaca oleracea). This prostate succulent has tiny yellow flowers and grows with far less density than kiss-me-quick.
One person’s weed is another person’s wildflower.