Hawaiian Names with Diacritics
- Sea purslane
- Seaside purslane
- Shoreline sea-purslane
- Shoreline seapurslane
- Portulaca portulacastrum
- Trianthema portulacastrum var. hillebrandii
Endangered Species Status
Plant Form / Growth Habit
- Non-Woody, Spreading
Mature Size, Height (in feet)
- Herbaceous, Short, Less than 1
Mature Size, Width
ʻĀkuikuli spreads from 1 and 4 feet or more in width.
Long lived (Greater than 5 years)
- Erosion Control
- Ground Cover
- Water Features
Additional Landscape Use Information
One of the most salt-tolerant of all coastal plants, ʻākulikuli is an excellent ground cover for beach areas, saline soils, xeric landscaping, and in and around water features.
A nice container plant that should be given full sun and regular watering. 
Plant Produces Flowers
- Light Purple
Additional Flower Color Information
ʻĀkulikuli has small purple, pinkish, or white flowers.
- Year Round
Additional Plant Texture Information
The small succulent leaves range from about 1/4 to just over 2 inches long.
- Light Green
- Medium Green
Additional Leaf Color Information
Generally leaves are medium green and turn red or yellow with age. Those grown in open or full sun areas usually have redder leaves than do shaded plants.
Additional Pest & Disease Information
This prostrate groundcover is prone to slug and snail attacks.
If using ʻākulikuli on land follow a low fertilzing regiment, but this is not necessary for plants in water features. An application slow release fertilizer with minor elements every six months. Foliar feeding with a water-soluble or an organic fertilizer (e.g. kelp or fish emulsion) at one-third to one-fourth the recommended strength monthly has proved beneficial. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]
Prune ʻākulikuli to keep confined to growing areas.
Additional Water Information
Once ʻākulikuli is established, watering only in times of prolonged drought is required. However, this wonderful groundcover will grow very happily in moist or wet conditions and can even grow directly in water.
Soil must be well drained
- Full sun
Additional Lighting Information
Full sun is optimal but tolerates some shading for part of the day.
Space ʻākulikuli 6 and 12 inches apart. The plants will grow together forming a nice groundcover.
- Waterlogged Soil
- Brackish Water
- Salt Spray
- Foot Traffic
Does tolerant some foot traffic. But like most plants, including turfgrasses, constant foot traffic will eventually cause irreparable damage.
- Northwest Islands
Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)
- Less than 150, 0 to 50 (Dry)
- Less than 150, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
Additional Habitat Information
ʻĀkulikuli naturally grows on sunny, windy sandy beaches and coastal coralline areas. This is a pantropic plant.
In the Hawaiian Islands, ʻākulikuli is found on all the main islands and in the Northwest Islands on Midway Atoll (Pihemanu), Pearl & Hermes Atoll (Holoikauaua), Lisianski (Papaʻāpoho), Laysan (Kauō), and Necker (Mokumanamana).
Sesuvium is a genus of eight species belonging to Aizoaceae (Ice Plant or Fig-marigold family). Sesuvium portulacastrum is the only species native to the Hawaiian Islands.
The generic name Sesuvium refers to the land of Sesuvii, a Gallic (Gaul) tribe.
The specific epithet portulacastrum is derived from Portulaca, purslane, and castrum, resembling, in reference to the likeness to plants of the genus Portulaca.
This succulent plant is a natural feature in Hawaiian wetlands, providing habitat for invertebrates used as food by native waterbirds.
"Seaside purslane" is one of the few plants that were listed as an emergency food during World War II in a manual called “Emergency Food Plants and Poisonous Plants of the Islands of the Pacific” by the War Department. The manual states that “the purpose of this manual is to aid the individual who becomes separated from his unit…so that this individual can live off the land.” It then briefly identifies the plant and how to prepare it. 
All fleshy parts are said to be edible and can be eaten raw or cooked. [2,4] The leaves have a slight salty taste and seems to hold its saltiness even when not grown in a seaside environment. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]
ʻĀkulikuli was the plant of choice for cleaning the stagnant, murky waters in the Ala Wai Canal (Waikīkī) on Oʻahu. Patented platforms of these plants were placed in the canal and the roots helped filter and clear the water of toxins and other unwanted materials.
The flowers can be used in making a beautiful lei but are difficult to make because of requiring a large volume of flowers. [Rick Barboza, Hui Kū Maoli Ola]
ʻAkulikuli (Sea Purslane) Use Outside of Hawaiʻi:
In The Philippines it is called dampalit (Tagalog) and is eaten usually as atsarang dampalit (picked sea purslane).
 "Container Gardening in Hawaii" by Janice Crowl, page 52.
 "Hawaiian Coastal Plants and Scenic Shorelines" by Mark David Merlin, page 41.
 “Emergency Food Plants and Poisonous Plants of the Islands of the Pacific” by the War Department (April 15, 1943), page 54.
 http://www.caske2000.org/survival/beachplants.htm [Accessed 8/20/11]
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Other Nursery Profiles for Sesuvium portulacastrum