Sunday is typically my “beach” day:
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:
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 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.
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……