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purslane

purslane, common name for some plants of the Portulaceae, a family of herbs and a few small shrubs, chiefly of the Americas. The portulacas or purslanes (genus Portulaca ) include many species indigenous to the United States. The pussley, or common purslane ( P. oleracea ), is a common trailing weed in America; it and the upright European variety are sometimes used as potherbs and greens. Several species of the related warm-temperate and tropical genus Talinum are similarly used. Several species of Portulaca are cultivated in gardens, e.g., the small, showy-blossomed rose moss, or garden purslane ( P. grandiflora ), introduced from Brazil. Many North American wildflowers, sometimes also cultivated, are members of this family. The spring beauty ( Claytonia virginica ; for John Clayton) is an early spring flower of Eastern woods. Bitterroot ( Lewisia rediviva ) is also a Western plant; it was found by Lewis and Clark on their expedition in the American West, and the genus was named for Lewis. The common name is applied to several Western landmarks, such as the Bitterroot Mountains; it is the state flower of Montana. Purslane is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Caryophyllales.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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