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Western Sea Purslane Sesuvium verrucosum


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Western Sea Purslane
credit: U.S. Bureau of Land Management

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Alternate name: Verrucose Sea Purslane

Family: Aizoaceae, Ice Plant view all from this family

Description Gray-green almost silvery perennial herb producing many branching, prostrate or ascending stems up to 3.3' (1 m) long, forming a mat up to 6.6' (2 m) wide producing star-like, purple flowers in top leaf axils.
Flowers: 0.5" (1 cm) wide with no petals but five, pointed sepals; purple to pink to reddish or orange in color with a thick outer green surface. A ring of stamens surrounds the central ovary.
Leaves: Wart-like, covered densely in tiny crystalline bumps. Stems lined with leaves of varying shapes which measure up to 1.5"(4 cm) long, opposite, broadest above middle.
Fruit: Contains numerous seeds and is 1/4" (0.5 cm) long.
Height: up to 2' (60 cm).

Flower April thru November.

Habitat Saline and alkaline habitat types on the coast and inland, including salt marshes and other saline wetlands, alkali flats, drying desert washes and reservoir margins.

Range Southwestern United States, south into Mexico and further south in parts of South America. Specifically in the U.S.: 2 counties in southern Oregon, southern half of California, northwestern and southeastern corners of Nevada, southeastern Utah, 2 counties in south central Colorado, 4 counties in south central Kansas, southwestern Arizona, southeastern corner of New Mexico, southern tip and western panhandle of Texas, and 3 counties in north central Oklahoma. Also seen in Arkansas and Wyoming.

Discussion Only Sesuvium species in the Southwestern U.S., the commonly known Western Sea Purslane is a member of the Ice Plant family. Western Sea Purslane plants in coastal environments like estuary edges are usually smaller in stature, with smaller morphological features than interior desert plants and plants at some coastal sites may function as annuals.