Trianthema portulacastrum (Desert horse purslane)

Trianthema portulacastrum (Desert horse purslane)

Trianthema portulacastrum (Desert horse purslane) an annual, succulent herb forming a prostrate mat or clump with stems up to 40 inches long with a firm taproot. The stem is green to red in color, hairless except for small lines of hairs near the leaves, and fleshy. The leaves are small round or oval blades up to 2 inches long borne on short petioles. The blossoms occur in leaf axils. The flower lacks petals but has purple, petallike sepals. The fruit is a curved, cylindrical capsule emerging from the stem. It is up to half a centimeter long and has two erect, pointed wings on top, where the capsule opens. Seed dispersal occurs in a number of ways. One seed may be carried on the detached cap of the fruit, which floats on water. Other seeds may fall out of the remaining part of the fruit or remain on the plant after it dies and withers, resprouting the following season.

Scientific classification:

Family: Aizoaceae
Genus: Trianthema
Species: T. portulacastrum

Scientific Name: Trianthema portulacastrum

Common Names: Desert horse purslane, Black pigweed, and Giant pigweed.
Tamil: Sharunnai, Shavalai, Charu velai
Telugu: ambatimadu, galijeru, ghelijehru
Bengali: Gadabani, Godabani, Kulphasag, Swetpunarnova
Kannada: Muchchugoni, Bili komme
Malayalam: Talutama, tavilama
Marathi: Pundhari-ghentuli
Nepali: Seto punarnava
Oriya: Luduru sag
Sanskrit: Chiratika, Dhanapatra, Dirghapatrika
Hindi: Sabuni, Salsabuni, Svetsabuni, Vishakhapara

Trianthema portulacastrum

How to care and grow Trianthema portulacastrum (Desert horse purslane)?


Desert horse purslane plant thrives best in full sun or partial shade. Some direct morning sunlight is fine, but avoid strong summer sunlight which can scorch its leaves.


Desert horse purslane plant grows well in rich, organic, well-drained soil. It is drought tolerant.


Trianthema portulacastrum plant prefers normal room temperatures between 60°F – 75°F / 16°C – 24°C.


Water regularly, keep the soil evenly moist spring through fall. Reduce watering in winter, allow the top one inch of soil to dry out between waterings.


Fertilize with a balanced slow-release fertilizer with minor elements every 6 months.


Trianthema portulacastrum can be easily propagated by seeds or cuttings.

Pests and Diseases:

Trianthema portulacastrum plant has no serious pest and disease problems.

Benefits of Trianthema portulacastrum (Desert horse purslane):

  • The young tops and leaves are eaten and a delightful salty flavor, they are delicious in salads.
  • A decoction of the powdered root is taken to treat venereal discharge
  • The roots of Trianthema portulacastrum are abortifacient in nature. It possesses emmenagogue and stomachic properties. It treats amenorrhoea, obstructions of the liver, and asthma.
  • The decoction is used as a vermifuge. It treats rheumatism and used as an antidote for alcoholic poisoning.
  • It is essential for the treatment of arthritis.
  • Dried leaves are used in treatment against gonorrhea
  • Trianthema portulacastrum has a potential value as a source of organic matter because it contains considerable amounts of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.
  • Known Hazards:
    If older leaves are eaten, the plant may cause loose bowels or paralysis. The seeds are harmful contaminants in food grains and other crop seeds.

Last updated on August 11th, 2021

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