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Family Portulacaceae

Description: Perennial to annual, usually succulent and mucilaginous herbs with fibrous to tuberous roots, sometimes minute and ephemeral, rarely somewhat suffrutescent (Portulaca suffrutescens Engelm.); stems herbaceous to slightly succulent, rarely somewhat woody, or strongly succulent with flaking bark (P. molokiniensis R.W. Hobdy).

Leaves alternate or rarely opposite, flat to terete, succulent, sessile, glabrous or rarely tomentose, axils appearing naked or commonly with few to numerous short to long hairs or scales (P. somalica N.E. Br., P. wightiana Wall.).

Inflorescence terminal, basically cymose but much congested and head-like; flowers sessile to pedicellate; sepaloids 2; petaloids (4–)5(–8), very shortly connate, very delicate, usually showy in bright colors; stamens usually numerous, or as few as 4; ovary semi-inferior, composed of (4–)5–8 carpels, unilocular, ovules numerous.

Fruits circumscissile capsules (pyxidia) with few to numerous seeds, capsule lid (operculum) falling off intact together with the dry perianth remains, stamens and style as a cap-like structure (calyptra); seeds yellow, brown to black or grey, often with iridescent gloss, testa cells usually forming an intricate stellate pattern, sometimes with tubercles or short to long projecting spines; hilum with a small to large spongy aril; embryo curved.

Distribution and occurrence: World: 1 genus, 40-115 species, worldwide in the tropics and subtropics, very rare in temperate climates.

External links:
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Portulacaceae, Order: Caryophyllales)

Previously a broader family, including the now segregate Anacampserotaceae, Montiaceae, and Talinaceae.

Text by Nyffeler & Egli 2010 (Taxon); page created by H. Sauquet (Nov 2020)
Taxon concept: Nyffeler & Egli 2010 (Taxon); APG IV (2016)

One genus in NSW: Portulaca

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