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Water Purslane

Lythrum portula

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Lythraceae (Purple Loosestrife)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
50 centimetres long
Ditches, heathland, marshes, mud, ponds, riverbanks, riversides, swamps, waterside, wetland, woodland.

Pink, 6 petals
The flowers are tiny and there are either 6 petals or no petals at all. They are borne inside the leaf axils. Flowers measure about 1mm in diameter.
The fruit is a many-seeded, globular capsule.
A hairless annual flower with (sometimes) reddish stems. The roundish leaves are in opposite pairs along the stems. Unlike the similar looking and much less frequent Hampshire Purslane (Ludwigia palustris), the leaves are not pointed at their ends. Often seen growing bare ground or in mud around the edges of water.
Other Names:
Spatulaleaf Loosestrife.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Lythrum portula, commonly known as water purslane, is a species of flowering plant in the family Lythraceae. It is native to Europe and Asia, but it is also found in other parts of the world as a naturalized species. The plant is known for its spikes of small, pink, purple or white flowers that bloom in the summer and its fleshy, succulent leaves and stems that are adapted to grow in wetland habitats such as marshes, swamps and along the banks of streams and rivers. The plant can grow to around 30-50cm tall and it forms a rosette of leaves and a long stem that carries the flowers. It is considered as a hardy and versatile plant, it can tolerate a wide range of soils and conditions, and it is tolerant of flooding and drought. It prefers full sun to partial shade and wet to moist 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.


Water Purslane, or Lythrum portula, is a herbaceous aquatic plant that is commonly found in marshy areas, ponds, and along the banks of streams and rivers. It belongs to the Lythraceae family, which includes more than 500 species of plants.

The Water Purslane has a distinctive appearance, with its slender stems that grow up to 50cm in length and its small, oval-shaped leaves that are arranged opposite each other on the stem. The plant produces small, pale pink flowers that bloom in late spring and summer.

The Water Purslane is often used as a medicinal plant, with many traditional herbalists claiming that it can help to alleviate a range of health problems. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, and can be used to treat conditions such as rheumatism, arthritis, and respiratory ailments.

In addition to its medicinal uses, the Water Purslane is also a popular ingredient in many cuisines around the world. Its leaves and stems can be eaten raw or cooked, and are often used as a garnish or added to salads. In some cultures, the plant is used to make a tea or infusion that is believed to have a calming effect.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Water Purslane is its ability to adapt to different environments. The plant is well-suited to wetland habitats, where it can thrive in water that is low in oxygen. Its ability to tolerate low oxygen levels is due to the fact that it has specialized structures called aerenchyma, which allow it to transport air to its roots.

Despite its many benefits, the Water Purslane is also considered a weed in some parts of the world, where it can spread rapidly and compete with native plant species. In order to control its growth, some experts recommend removing the plant from the water and drying it out before disposing of it.

Water Purslane is known by many other common names, including marsh purslane, water violet, and creeping jenny. It is native to Europe, North Africa, and western Asia, but has been introduced to other parts of the world as an ornamental plant or accidentally through ballast water or other means.

The plant is often used in wetland restoration projects, as it can help to stabilize soil and prevent erosion. It is also a popular choice for aquatic gardens and ponds, where its attractive foliage and delicate flowers can add beauty and interest to the landscape.

Water Purslane has been the subject of some scientific research, which has uncovered a range of potentially beneficial properties. For example, studies have suggested that the plant may have antimicrobial and antifungal properties, and may be useful in the treatment of skin infections and other conditions. It is also believed to have antioxidant properties, which may help to protect against cellular damage caused by free radicals.

Despite its many benefits, it is important to note that Water Purslane should not be consumed in large quantities, as it may contain toxins that can be harmful to humans and animals. If you are considering using Water Purslane for medicinal or culinary purposes, it is important to seek advice from a qualified professional and to exercise caution when handling the plant.

Water Purslane is an important food source for a variety of wildlife, including ducks, geese, and other waterfowl, as well as some fish and insects. The plant's seeds and leaves provide essential nutrients for these animals, and help to support the biodiversity of wetland ecosystems.

In some cultures, Water Purslane is also used in traditional medicine to treat digestive disorders and other ailments. The plant is believed to have a cooling effect on the body, and is often used to reduce fever or inflammation. It may also be used to alleviate pain, and is sometimes applied topically to treat skin conditions such as burns or wounds.

Water Purslane is relatively easy to grow, and can be propagated from stem cuttings or seed. The plant prefers wet or marshy environments, and will grow best in soil that is rich in organic matter. It requires plenty of sunlight and regular watering, but can tolerate some shade and periods of drought.

If you are interested in growing Water Purslane, it is important to remember that the plant can be invasive in some areas. Before planting, be sure to check with your local authorities to ensure that it is not considered a noxious weed in your region.

Water Purslane is also known for its ability to absorb excess nutrients and pollutants from the water. As an aquatic plant, it can absorb and filter out contaminants such as nitrogen and phosphorus, which can be harmful to water quality and aquatic life.

This makes Water Purslane a valuable tool in the fight against water pollution and eutrophication. By planting Water Purslane in wetland areas or near bodies of water, it is possible to improve water quality and create healthier ecosystems.

In addition, Water Purslane is often used in landscaping and erosion control projects, where its dense root system can help to stabilize soil and prevent erosion. The plant is also attractive to pollinators such as bees and butterflies, making it a valuable addition to any garden or natural area.

Water Purslane has a long history of use in traditional medicine, and is still used by many herbalists and natural health practitioners today. While more research is needed to fully understand the plant's medicinal properties, there is growing interest in its potential to treat a range of health conditions.

Overall, Water Purslane is a valuable and versatile plant that has many benefits and applications. Whether you are interested in its ecological, medicinal, or culinary properties, this unique plant is definitely worth exploring.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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