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Sea Purslane

Atriplex portulacoides

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Amaranthaceae (Amaranth)
Evergreen shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Beaches, rocky places, saltmarshes, sand dunes, sea cliffs, seaside.

Yellow, no petals
Slender flower spikes with flowers arranged inside small, dense clusters. Yellow stamens. Wind pollinated.
3-lobed triangular fruit, up to 4 centimetres long. Seeds are dark brown.
A sprawling perennial undershrub. Fleshy, succulent, oblong and greyish leaves. The leaves taper at their bases and rarely have teeth.
Other Names:
Lesser Shrubby Orache, Orach, Purslane, Purslane Orache, Shrubby Orache.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Atriplex portulacoides, commonly known as purslane or orach, is a species of flowering plant in the family Amaranthaceae. It is native to Europe and Asia, but it is also found in other parts of the world as an introduced species. The plant is known for its small, green flowers that bloom in the summer and its fleshy, oblong leaves that are edible and high in vitamins and minerals, particularly high in omega-3 fatty acids. The plant forms a low growing rosette of leaves that can reach up to 30cm tall and wide, it can grow as an annual or perennial depending on the location. It is considered as a hardy and versatile plant, it can tolerate a wide range of soils and conditions, and it is tolerant of drought and salt. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It is also used as an ornamental plant, as a source of food for wild animals, and it is also used in traditional medicine.


Sea Purslane, or Atriplex portulacoides, is a plant species that is commonly found along the coastlines of Europe, Asia, and North America. It is a halophytic plant, which means that it can grow in saline environments, including salt marshes, sand dunes, and estuaries.

The Sea Purslane is a small herbaceous plant that typically grows to a height of around 30 cm. It has fleshy, succulent leaves that are oval in shape and around 2-5 cm long. The leaves are often tinged with red or purple, which makes them an attractive addition to coastal gardens.

One of the most interesting things about Sea Purslane is its nutritional value. The plant is high in vitamins A and C, as well as minerals such as calcium and potassium. It is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for human health.

In addition to its nutritional benefits, Sea Purslane has also been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. The plant was traditionally used to treat conditions such as inflammation, skin irritation, and digestive problems. Recent studies have also shown that Sea Purslane has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which may help to prevent chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Sea Purslane is also an important ecological species, as it plays a vital role in the ecosystem of coastal regions. It helps to stabilize sand dunes and prevent erosion, and it provides a habitat for a range of marine and bird species.

Despite its many benefits, Sea Purslane is threatened by a range of factors, including habitat loss, climate change, and pollution. Efforts are underway to protect and conserve this important species, including the creation of protected areas and the development of sustainable harvesting practices.

Sea Purslane is a highly adaptable plant that can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions. It is able to grow in sandy soils with low water availability and high salt concentrations, making it an important pioneer species in coastal ecosystems.

In addition to its nutritional and medicinal uses, Sea Purslane has also been used for culinary purposes in some parts of the world. In Portugal, for example, it is often used in salads or as a garnish for seafood dishes. The plant has a slightly salty, tangy flavor that complements the flavors of seafood and other coastal ingredients.

Sea Purslane is also an important food source for a range of marine and bird species. The plant provides a habitat for insects, which in turn attract larger animals such as birds and mammals. The seeds of the plant are also eaten by a variety of shorebirds, including sandpipers and plovers.

One of the biggest threats to Sea Purslane is habitat loss and degradation. Coastal development, pollution, and climate change are all factors that can impact the health and vitality of coastal ecosystems, including those that support Sea Purslane populations. Efforts to protect and conserve these habitats are therefore critical to the long-term survival of this important plant species.

Sea Purslane is also a valuable plant species for soil conservation and restoration. The plant has a deep root system that can help to stabilize soil and prevent erosion. This is particularly important in coastal regions, where high winds and wave action can cause significant erosion and loss of topsoil.

In addition, Sea Purslane can also help to improve soil quality by increasing organic matter and nutrient levels. The plant has a high salt tolerance, which means that it can grow in soils that are too saline for other plant species. This makes it an important tool for restoring degraded soils in coastal areas.

Sea Purslane is also a valuable plant for phytoremediation, which is the use of plants to remove pollutants from soil and water. The plant has been shown to be effective at removing heavy metals and other pollutants from contaminated soils, making it a potential tool for cleaning up polluted coastal areas.

Overall, Sea Purslane is a versatile and valuable plant species that has many important ecological, nutritional, medicinal, and practical benefits. As we continue to learn more about this remarkable plant, it is important that we work to protect and conserve it for its many valuable contributions to human health and the environment.


Video 1: Sea Purslane filmed in Orford, Suffolk on the 30th June 2022.


Video 2: Sea Purslane filmed at Marshside, Southport and Formby, Lancashire on the 4th June 2023.


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