Beachside Succulents

Sunday is typically my “beach” day:

Jaycee Beach, Vero Beach, Oct. 7, 2012

On days when it’s only partly sunny, I walk the beach in search of conch shells (rarely find any!!) and interesting flora (always do! :) )  Today I ran across a colorful swatch of sea purslane at the base of a boardwalk staircase:
Sea Purslane aka Sesuvium portulacastrum

Also known as Sesuvium portulacastrum, this beachside succulent has edible leaves high in Vitamin C.  The reddish stems grow from 8 to 18″ and they too can be eaten.    In Asia, sea purslane is grown as a vegetable and sold in markets…For the record, I nibbled one VERY briefly today :arrow: it gives new meaning to the phrase “too much salt!”

This “acquired taste” ;) spreads along (and under) the sand by roots that grow from joints along its 6′ length.  In this way, it acts as a sand stabilizer for our erosion-prone Florida beaches.  Interesting fact: an hour south of here, sea purslane is a year round bloomer. Here, we see the plant’s solitary, pink, star-shaped flower from July thrrough October, although this clump had none in evidence.

Between the boardwalk and parking area, a stand of Kalanchoe Daigremontiana was hiding an interesting wildflower:

Wild poinsettia aka Poinsettia cyathophora

This native plant is Poinsettia cyathophora, a relative of the commercial Mexican Poinsettias, and member of the Euphorbia family; interesting bloodline! :)  Like its Christmas cousins, this succulent is considered poisonous and bleeds the same milky sap if broken along the stemline.

P. cyathophora germinates over a wide range of temperatures, soil conditions and ph-levels, and emerges year-round throughout the state. Cotton and peanut farmers find this plant a weedy nuisance, as it impinges their fields and crowds their crops.  Ironically the opposite seems to be true in my pictures, especially the one in the header which you can see fullsize here!  If not for the bright orange upper bracts, I’d have missed this specimen entirely!

While researching the wild poinsettia, I found a wonderful nature art journal by a blogger whose Wild Poinsettia illustration blows my pictures out of the water (so to speak!)  If you haven’t already clicked her hyperlinks, I highly recommend you do it now!

Until next time……

:)

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14 thoughts on “Beachside Succulents

  1. What a nice Beach Sunday! I believe you about just going an hour south and the sea purslane being a year round bloomer. I love the name “sea purslane”! The Poinsttia succulant reminds me a bit of our Fire on the Mountain(not a succulant)that the drought strangled but now it’s coming back with our little bit of rain. I think… :) Is that a little pink center or a space between leaves?.. :)

  2. Hello!
    That coral pink is the coloration of the bracts. It was hard to angle the camera for a good shot, so it’s not real obvious where the wild poinsettia leaves end and the kalanchoes surrounding it begin! Click on the link to the sketches (last paragraph) and you’ll see the plant in better detail than I was able to capture!
    Now I’m off to your blog to see what’s new there! :)

  3. Up here a different purslane grows wild in my garden. It is one of the “weeds” I encourage – and harvest – for the tasty raw leaves. Cooked, it has excellent thickening properties. Thanks

  4. I suppose it makes sense that plants that can tolerate such a salty environment would acquire that flavor. :) Since I’m more sensitive to the taste of salt than most people, I think I’ll stay away from this one! :)

  5. Great discoveries. The sea purslane got my attention. Beautiful plant that can be eaten. Cool!. Perhaps it’ll be delicious as a salad. The other plant, poinsettia by the sea, I think I saw them also in the Philippines coastal villages. Beautiful post.

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