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Portulaca lutea

leaf Main Plant Information

Genus

Portulaca

Species

lutea

Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • ʻIhi

Hawaiian Names

  • Ihi

Common Names

  • Yellow purslane

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status

Indigenous

Endangered Species Status

No Status

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Non-Woody, Spreading

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Herbaceous, Short, Less than 1

Mature Size, Width

ʻIhi has about a 1-foot spread.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent
  • Container
  • Ground Cover

Additional Landscape Use Information

ʻIhi becomes very leggy and succumb to a number pests, especially slugs and snails and fungal rot if given too much water. These are great potted plants for the often harsh conditions on full sun and windy porches or lānais. If kept in containers, use cement, terra cotta, or unglazed ceramic pots which are preferred over plastic ones. These types of potting containers tend to breath better and allow potting mix to dry out quicker, essential for the health of these xeric plants. Too, the weight of the pots will help these succulents from toppling over in windy conditions and as they grow larger in the pots. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Plant Produces Flowers

Yes

leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Not Showy

Flower Colors

  • Yellow

Additional Flower Color Information

ʻIhi flowers are bright yellow with yellow or red anthers.

Blooming Period

  • Sporadic
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

Seed pods, turning dark brown or black when ripe, will form after flowering. Multitudes of tiny seeds will fall to the ground and self-sow on site, ensuring future plants.

ʻIhi has been observed to bloom from July through November in the wild. [1] Cultivated plants perform differently and have sporadic blooming periods. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Fine

Additional Plant Texture Information

Leaves are usually under an inch long or wide and succulent. The stems can be gray, light brown, green or red.

Leaf Colors

  • Medium Green

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

ʻIhi is prone to attacks by slugs, ants, mealy bugs, scale, thrips, spider mites, aphids, and root mealy bugs. Fungal rot can be a major problem, so do not let water stay on the surface. These succulent plants need very well drained soil. Water in the morning to allow the pot to dry out during the day.

leaf Growth Requirements

Fertilizer

An application of a balanced slow release fertilize with minor elements every six months. Foliar feed monthly with kelp or fish emulsion, or a water-soluble fertilizer with a dilution of one half to one third of recommended strength. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]

Pruning Information

None necessary except to remove spent leaves and seed capsules an stalks in the landscape or in pots.

Water Requirements

  • Dry

Additional Water Information

Once plant is well established, allow them to dry out between waterings. This plant naturally grows in very harsh, dry conditions and does not like wet feet, that is constant moisture in the root area.

Soil must be well drained

Yes

Light Conditions

  • Full sun

Spacing Information

As a groundcover, space 8 to 12 inches apart.

Tolerances

  • Drought
  • Wind
  • Salt Spray
  • Heat

Soils

  • Sand
  • Cinder
  • Coral

Limitations

Does not like too much water and constant moisture. Not a recommended plant for someone who loves to water!

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Niʻihau
  • Kauaʻi
  • Oʻahu
  • Molokaʻi
  • Lānaʻi
  • Maui
  • Hawaiʻi
  • Northwest Islands

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • Less than 150, 0 to 50 (Dry)

Habitat

  • Terrestrial

Additional Habitat Information

This indigenous portulaca grows in sunny coastal and strand habitats from sea level to about 130 feet.ʻIhi can also be found on lava, raised coralline reefs, sand dunes, soil pockets or cracks. In the Hawaiian Islands, it is found on all the Northwest Islands, except Kure Atoll and Pearl and Hermes Atoll.

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

ʻIhi (Portulaca spp.) are members of the Purslane family or Portulacaceae. Many, such as portulacas and lewisias, have succulent leaves and very colorful flowers that are commonly seen in home gardens.

There are four species of Portulaca native to the Hawaiian Archipelago. The featured species is the only indigenous portulaca in the islands.

Etymology

The generic name Portulaca is the Latin name for purslane (P. oleracea).

The specific epithet lutea is Latin for yellow, in reference to the bright yellow flowers of this species.

Background Information

It is similar to its very rare cousin Portulaca molokiniensis. For the diferences see "Special Notes and Information" under Portulaca molokiniensis.

Additional References

[1] Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge website http://www.fws.gov/midway/wildlife/plants.html (accessed 7/31/08)

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