Wingpod Purslane

Wingpod Purslane or Crownpod Purslane (Portulaca umbraticola) is a native, annual wildflower that blooms here in the Sonoran Desert after our summer monsoon rains. These plants are low-growing and a bit weedy-looking, and the small, but colorful flowers close by midday, so these common plants are often overlooked. When seen from close-up, Wingpod Purslane is actually surprisingly attractive even though the flowers are small (compare the flower to the black ant below).

Wingpod Purslane or Crownpod Purslane (Portulaca umbraticola) flower and an ant

The flowers have five yellow petals that are usually broadly-tipped with orange, but they can also be plain yellow or tipped with red. The leaves are smooth and succulent, and the fleshy stems are often a bright reddish color. Wingpod Purslane has very distinctive seed capsules that are each encircled by a crown-like, membranaceous wing.

Wingpod Purslane or Crownpod Purslane (Portulaca umbraticola) seedpods

I often find Wingpod Purslane growing together with the closely related Shrubby Purslane (Portulaca suffrutescens), which is usually (but not always) a much larger and showier wildflower. Portulaca species can show great variability in flower size between individuals of the same species, something that I have noticed with both Wingpod Purslane and Shrubby Purslane.