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Portulaca lutea
Alternative Botanical Names
None found
Common Names
Potential or Traditional Uses
Photo of Portulaca lutea
Portulaca lutea is a prostrate, perennial, succulent herb. The leaves are oval to round and range in size from 3/8 to 1 inch. One to three yellow flowers are borne at the ends of the stems. (Wagner 1990)
Habitat and Geographic Range
Portulaca lutea is indigenous to Hawai'i and is widespread throughout the Pacific Islands. In Hawai'i, Portulaca lutea grows on a variety of soils, including lava, coral and sand dunes, in coastal areas from sea level to 130 feet. It grows on all of the main Hawaiian islands except Kaua'i and is more common on the windward coasts than on the leeward ones. It is also found on all of the Northwestern Hawaiian islands except Kure Atoll and Pearl and Hermes Atoll. (Wagner 1990)
Propagation by Seeds
The fruits of Portulaca lutea are 1/4 inch oval capsules and are filled with tiny seeds. The capsules split open when ripe.

To clean the seeds, air dry them at room temperature in a bowl or paper bag. Carefully rub the capsules through a strainer with the appropriate size mesh. The seeds should fall through leaving the debris in the strainer.

Sow the seeds on the surface of a pre-moistened, sterile, well draining mix. Do not cover the seeds with soil. (Bornhorst 1996; Lilleng-Rosenberger 1998; Wagner 1990)

Propagation by Cuttings
Portulaca lutea is easy to grow from tip cuttings. Rooting hormones and mist systems are not necessary. Cuttings should be 2 to 5 inches long and the lower leaves should be removed. Sterile potting mix can be used as a rooting medium. The cuttings should be watered daily. They will root in a couple of weeks. (Bornhorst 1996) Mew recommends rooting the cuttings in sand under a mist system. (Mew 1987)
Propagation by Division
Not applicable.
Propagation by Air Layers
Not applicable.
Propagation by Grafting
Not applicable.
Propagation by Tissue Culture
No information located to date.
Bornhorst, Heidi L. 1996. Growing native Hawaiian plants: a how-to guide for the gardener. Honolulu: The Bess Press. p. 30-31.

Lilleeng-Rosenberger, Kerin. 1998. Propagation techniques for native Hawaiian plants. Newsletter of the Hawaiian Botanical Society 37 (2):33-35.

Mew, Randal K. T. 1987. Cultivation and propagation of selected coastal plants at the Waikiki Aquarium. Newsletter of the Hawaiian Botanical Society 26 (2):27-32.

Wagner, Warren L., Darrel R. Herbst, and S. H. Sohmer. 1990. Manual of the flowering plants of Hawai'i. 2 vols., Bishop Museum Special Publication 83. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press and Bishop Museum Press. p. 1071-1072.

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The image in this record is used with permission from Dr. Gerald Carr's Web site "Hawaiian Native Plants" at

Last updated:
12 March 2000

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