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Trianthema portulacastrum (Desert horse-purslane)
Anderson, Wynn

Trianthema portulacastrum

Trianthema portulacastrum L.

Desert Horse-purslane, Horse-purslane, Black-pigweed, Giant-pigweed

Aizoaceae (Fig-Marigold Family)


USDA Symbol: TRPO2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), HI (I), PR (N), VI (N)


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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Annual
Habit: Herb
Leaf Arrangement: Opposite
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Obovate
Leaf Texture: Spongy
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Rarely more than a few inches in height, but decumbent branches may extend more than 3 feet from the base.
Flower: Pink, rotate, five petals.
Fruit: Circumscissile capsule.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct
Bloom Notes: Flowers pink to pinkish-purple.


USA: AL , AR , AZ , CA , CO , FL , GA , LA , MD , MO , MS , NC , NJ , NM , NV , OK , SC , TN , TX , UT , VA
Native Distribution: Southern half of the United States, Mexico, West Indies, Central America, most of South America, most of Asia and most of Africa.
Native Habitat: In sandy soils of thickets, on dunes and in waste grounds along streams. (Bibref 293).

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Alkaline (pH>7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Drought Tolerance: Medium
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Moist or seasonally-moist soils in waste areas, marshes, streamsides, roadsides, croplands and other disturbed areas.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.


Bibref 293 - Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas (1979) Correll, D. S. & M. C. Johnston

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Additional resources

USDA: Find Trianthema portulacastrum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Trianthema portulacastrum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Trianthema portulacastrum


Record Modified: 2019-06-20
Research By: Joseph A. Marcus

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