portulaca oleracea

Requests about identification of wild plants in Malta and Gozo. (Please include precise details and pictures to help the experts in their ID process)

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wolf
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portulaca oleracea

Post by wolf » Fri Aug 18, 2006 4:53 pm

I am pleased to report finally finding what I believe is portulaca oleracea which is supposed to be common but have only located this week...and in the middle of wied is-sewda to boot !!! I am curious to know if anyone has come across this plant - and if so where. Wied is-Sewda also has some ( very few ) specimens of plumbago europea which is none too common in Malta ...so if you can take the heat ( and the smells !! ) a visit to this area cud be rewarding

ps ...I am assuming I identified portulaca correctly....flower is about 1cm across - leaves fleshy - plant rather low-lying ( prostratish sort of )

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Post by MWP admin » Fri Aug 18, 2006 6:35 pm

It is Portulaca europea and we have it here (where we live) as an escape, and what a successful escape I must say - growing at pavement sides with bare soil.

Last year I discovered a strange fungal disease on this species which was reported for the first time. I gave the data to the plant mycology Lab, Ghammieri and is recorded. Maybe Timothy can help.

It produces thousands of fertile seeds and so it tend to form populations. I dont like this plant because in my opinion it might be a serious invasive but on the other hand I like it becasue it flowers in Summer 8)

My father use to cultivate the plant for birdseed. (Have to confirm with him though). In Italy, this plant is used for culinary purposes. (hi to Dr. Angelo Porta-Puglia)
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jackpot
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Post by jackpot » Sat Aug 19, 2006 8:52 am

the taste as a salad is not bad (and very common in some Arabian countries)- last week I saw the plant everywhere in flower-beds in Malta!

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Post by wolf » Sat Aug 19, 2006 9:46 am

jack..I suppose you use leaves for salad....have to start to find ways to beat the cost of living you know...

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Post by robcar » Sat Aug 19, 2006 10:57 am

Like, you wolf, even though it should be common I first found P.oleracea a couple of weeks ago - along a path near fields at Lija, where there are quite a few - however, I would probably have missed it due to my near total aestivation - i just hate the hot summer sun

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Post by IL-PINE » Sat Aug 19, 2006 12:19 pm

It is quite easily seen on road margins and in flowerpots, but it is quite small and not easily visible especially when not flowering. I also noticed it just this year, but since first seeing it, I am almost seeing it everyday somewhere.

I first saw it in flowerpots at the entrance of the Mosta Polyclinic.
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Post by MWP admin » Sat Aug 19, 2006 1:02 pm

Do you think it could be invasive or put to risk small indigenous flora? The fact is a summer flowering plant might mean no bad news.
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wolf
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Post by wolf » Sat Aug 19, 2006 1:34 pm

dont believe this plant is highly invasive ...there is also some thought that it IS indigenous in fact
I have also now found it twice at dried valley bottoms of wied is sewda and wied rihana

i think xanthium and typha domingensis are much more invasive ... typha is now dominant in wied rihana just where it crosses the burmarrad road

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Post by Ke!tH » Thu Aug 24, 2006 4:50 pm

This plant grows annualy in our garden and i use it as an additional feed for my canaries, they love it. Thinking of it, its true that its not so common elsewhere, maybe because it requires water?

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Post by wolf » Thu Aug 24, 2006 5:36 pm

like Pine I am now seeing this plant everywhere....including in a huge olive tree tub just across from my house - rarely in flower though

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Post by MWP admin » Thu Aug 24, 2006 6:57 pm

Wolf, I think it flowers only in the morning or cool days and if you go in the afternoon you would probably find it without blossoming flowers.
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Post by wolf » Thu Aug 24, 2006 7:06 pm

couple of times i found it in flower was always around mid-morning in fact

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Post by MWP admin » Thu Aug 24, 2006 8:40 pm

I experienced first this phenomenont on making the profile of Lactuca serriola - it is much worse and really made me crazy.

I would go after work to Buskett (where I first met the plant) loaded with photographic gizmos and inspiration just to find no blossoms. Again next day, but just to make me more disappointed. Repeated for few days actually until I gave up (believing flower period was over!)

It happened that I met another flowering plant on the way while going to Univ at 8 am and on my way back (10am) they where not there, but can notice the closed buds! So, then I solved the mystery!
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jackpot
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Post by jackpot » Thu Aug 24, 2006 10:39 pm

you are right- they flower early in the morning- a very common ruderal plant in Malta but not invasive (they do not loke competition).

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Post by Sdravko » Sat Sep 09, 2006 10:40 am

Portulasca was the favorite salad of ancient Romans and Greeks so it should be native in the Mediterranean. Its most striking property is that it appears in mdsummer whenever there is some moisture and is one of the few fresh greens during the hottest time of the year. Its also the favorite food of my ex-girlfriend and my kids collect it whenever they see it. used in bulgaria to feed chicks.
the seeds of some other species ( i think P. grandiflora) were an important food for some Indian tribes

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Post by wolf » Sat Sep 09, 2006 10:44 am

thanks Sdravko for some very interesting information

wolf

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