Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Small's Purslane - Portulaca smallii   P. Wilson
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Section 6 » Order Caryophyllales » Family Portulacaceae
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AuthorP. Wilson
DistributionPresent at scattered sites in the northeastern and central Piedmont, mostly on the Rolesville Pluton area in eastern Wake and Franklin counties.

This is strictly a Southern Piedmont species, from southern VA to central GA; most records are from GA.
AbundanceLocally fairly common at flatrocks in Wake and Franklin counties, but in general quite rare, known from about 30-32 sites, but these occupy a very tiny percentage of the Piedmont. This is a State Threatened species.
HabitatThis is essentially a granitic flatrock species, in NC found almost exclusively on flat surfaces around the margins of the rocks, in thin soil. It may spread to nearby sandy soil of field edges. It also occurs on a single diabase flatrock in Granville County.
PhenologyBlooms from June to October, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is a very low-growing species, branched at the base, somewhat prostrate, though with a few ascending branches to only 2-3 inches tall. The alternate leaves are very crowded on the branches; each is linear, succulent and light green, only about 1/4-inch long but with a rounded tip. In some leaf axils grow tiny pale pink to flesh-colored flowers, each barely 1/8-inch across. This species can be confused with the Phemeranthus species. These plants have longer leaves, but they are also linear, rounded in cross-section, and mostly ascending. Portulaca leaves are usually much shorter and more horizontally arranged, but some young plants of the other genus could cause confusion. Note that the flowers are completely different, if seen in bloom, as Phemeranthus species have flowers on elevated stems a few inches above the leaves, rather than tucked into leaf axils in Portulaca. When you are looking for plants on flatrocks, you are going to have to get on hands and knees to identify this and some other species.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Small's Portulaca
State RankS2
Global RankG3
State StatusT
US Status
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