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kutira - Portulaca quadrifida Linn.

kutira :

Flowering plant Photograph by: Cantiq Unique
Portulaca quadrifida is a prostrate, mat-forming annual or short-lived perennial herb with much-branched, spreading, articulated, fleshy stems up to 30 cm long or longer. The stems root at the nodes where they are in contact with the ground.
The edible leaves are gathered from the wild and used locally. The plant is also used for local medicinal purposes. Large types are sometimes planted as an ornamental


Probably originally native to Africa, it is now Pantropical.

Taxonomical Classification

Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom: Streptophyta
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
Family: Portulacaceae
Genus: Portulaca
Species: Portulaca quadrifida

Allied species:

Portulaca formosana, Portulaca meridiana Linn, Portulaca linifolia Forssk.


Sanskrit: Paciri, Paviri.
English: Chicken weed, Wild purslane, single-flowered purslane; small-leaved purslane; ten o’clock plant
Hindi: Paviri, Chounlayi,Khate Chawal
Telugu: Goddu pavelli
Marathi: Rangol,Khate Chanval
Tamil: பசலை கீறை Pasalai keerai
Malayalam: Neelakeera
Kannada: Gooni Soppu,Hali Bachchdi Hali Dajjili
Sindhi: lunak
Chinese: Si lie ma chi xian, Si ban ma chi xian
French: pourpier
Burma: Mya-byit, Mya-byit-gale.


The mat-forming habit and prostrate stems which can root from the nodes easily distinguish P. quadrifida from other members of the genus (Gilbert and Phillips, 2000).


The flowers are said to open promptly at 10am, hence the English name ten oclock plant


Synonyms in Ayurveda: kutira, laghu lonika, lonika, upadyki, kutinjara, jivalonika

. The botanical name is derived from the Latin Potare, meaning to “carry,” 
and Lac or “milk”, referring to the milky sap of the plant.

It is said to be useful in asthma, cough, urinary discharges, inflammations and ulcers.


The plant is widespread in the tropics. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 22 - 32°c, but can tolerate 16 - 36°c. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,500 - 2,000mm, but tolerates 1,000 - 2,500mm
Requires a sunny position in a well-drained soil. Tolerant of a wide range of soils but prefers sand or sandy loams. Plants can succeed in quite poor soils. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 6.5, tolerating 4.5 - 7.5.
Plants can become troublesome weeds of cultivation, since they break up easily and even small fragments can grow into new plants. In addition, the seeds are easily spread by wind, water, with crop seeds or through bird droppings.
The plants take about six to eight weeks to produce a crop from seed and can then be harvested every two weeks on a cut and come again principle.
This species photosynthesizes by a more efficient method than most plants. Called the C4 carbon-fixation pathway, this process is particularly efficient at high temperatures, in bright sunlight and under dry conditions


Seed - fresh seeds need light for germination, but this requirement disappears in older seeds


Portulaca species flowers are complete, bisexual, i.e., with functional male (androecium) and female (gynoecium), including stamens, carpels and ovary; rarely unisexual. Pollination is entomophilous i.e., by insects, or cleistogamy i.e., by self or allogamy i.e., by cross pollination. Flowering/Fruiting: throughout the year.


Leaves contain mucilage and acid potassium oxalate.
- Phytochemical screening of ethanolic extract yielded alkaloids, saponins, flavonoids, triterpenoids/steroids, tannins and glycosides.
- Aqueous extract yielded flavonoids, alkaloids, carbohydrates, glycosides, amino acids and saponins.

Parts used for medicinal purpose

Leaves, Seed, ,


  1. Juice - 1-20 ml
  2. Powder- 125-400 mg


Prostrate annual herb with a somewhat swollen tap-root; stems often reddish and sometimes rooting at the nodes, sometimes reaching 25 cm long and c. 1 cm in diam. Leaves opposite; lamina fleshy, up to 10 × 4 mm, but often much less and frequently somewhat shrunk in dried specimens, elliptic, lanceolate, elliptic-oblong or rarely cordate-ovate, apex acute or obtuse, both surfaces more or less flattened; petiole c. 1 mm. long; stipular hairs whitish, numerous, 3–5 mm long. Flowers 1–4 at the ends of the branches, surrounded by 4 leaves often somewhat larger than the cauline ones and by numerous hairs c. 4 mm long. Sepals 2–4 × 1·5–3·5 mm ± triangular, obtuse, united at the base. Petals 4 (5), yellow or orange or very rarely pink or purplish, almost free, c. 5 × 3 mm, elliptic to ovate. Stamens 8–12. Ovary conical-ovoid; style c. 5 mm long, thickened at the apex and with 4 spreading stigmas. Capsule conical-ovoid, dehiscing horizontally c. 1/3 of the way up. Seeds many, c. 1 mm in diameter, greyish, reniform, verrucose with blunt tubercles.

The stamen number and flower size of P. quadrifida however may be variable


The transverse section of root is circular in outline with exfoliative periderm as the outermost layer  Periderm is of 2-5 layers and followed by wide cortex consisting of 6 to 8 layers of thin walled, polygonal parenchymatous cells. Transverse of section of root showed the presence of triarch primary xylem at the center.
Microscopical characteristics of Portulaca quadrifida 

Stem: The cross section of the stem was circular in outline It consists of epidermis, cortex and pith. The epidermal cells were polygonal in shape and were surrounded externally by thick cuticle. The outer wall of the epidermal cells slightly bulged out. Cortex is composed of thin walled, more or less isodiametric parenchymatous cells without any intercellular spaces. Collateral vascular bundles were arranged in a ring at the center. Pith is nearly absent.

Microscopical characteristics of Portulaca quadrifida flower 

Cells of corolla are tubular with wavy walls and transverse septa . Cells of calyx are more or less rectangular with transverse to oblique septa.  Unicellular covering trichomes are seen at the base of corolla . Anthers are bilobed with rounded pollen grains 

Length of stomata and epidermal cells, number of stomata were found to be more on the abaxial surface. Stomata was absent on the abaxial surface of Portulaca quadrifida. Value of the vein islet number is higher for Portulaca oleracea among the three species. 

Geographical distribution:

Probably originally native to Africa, it is now Pantropical.
- A weed in and about towns.
- Found in the Batan Islands and in the Island of Luzon from Cagayan to Rizal Provinces.
- Probably introduced.
- Also occurs in Tropical Asia and Africa to Malaya, and the Marianne and Caroline Islands.


Open disturbed grounds on sandy soils

Plant conservation:

The wide distribution and large variation of P. quadrifida Linn. points to great genetic flexibility that rapidly permits adaptation to new environments.

General Use:

Although used less widely, the plant has similar medicinal applications to Portulaca oleracea
 The general uses are as a diuretic, to treat rheumatism and gynaecological diseases, as a sedative, analgesic and cardiotonic, to treat fever, disorders of the urinary tract, worm diseases, as a tonic and choleretic, to treat dysentery, and to apply externally to ulcers, eczema and dermatitis

Therapeutic Uses:

used for treatment of urinary and inflammatory disorders. Leaf juice applied to abscesses. Leaf decoction used in dysentery. Plant decoction used as anthelmintic and for treatment of stomach complaints and diarrhea.

Systemic Use:

P. quadrifida is also used as a traditional medicine in Africa and in China e.g. as a veterinary lactation stimulant or as an anti-abortifacient. It is also used for parasitic infection, for kidneys, pulmonary troubles, stomach troubles, venereal disease and as a diuretic, pain-killer or vermifuge (JSTOR Global Plants, 2014). Other uses mentioned by PROTA (2014) include as a diuretic, to treat rheumatism and gynaecological diseases, as a sedative, analgesic and cardiotonic, to treat fever, disorders of the urinary tract, worm diseases, as a tonic and choleretic, to treat dysentery and to apply externally to ulcers, eczema and dermatitis.




Antiscorbutic, anticephalic, emetic.
- Studies show antimicrobial, antioxidant, hepatoprotective, anticancer and CNS depressant properties. 

Clinical trials:

1. Effects of Portulaca quadrifica (Purslane) Seed Extract on the Reproductive Organs of Male Albino Mice- A Histological Study / O P Verma, Santosh Kumar, H C Jain, and Siurabhi Srivastava /CCRAS



1. Neuropharmacological Effects of Ethanolic Extract of Portulaca quadrifida Linn. In Mice / Syed Kamil M, LiyakhaT Ahmed MD and Paramjyothi S / International Journal of PharmTech Research, Vol.2, No.2, pp 1386-1390, April-June 2010

2. Preliminary Pharmacognostical And Phytochemical Evaluation of Portulaca quadrifida Linn. / Syed Kamil Mulla and Paramjyothi Swamy / International Journal of PharmTech Research, Vol.2, No.3, pp 1699-1702, July-Sept 2010

Toxicity studies:

The plant may contain oxalates in toxic quantities, which can cause death in livestock
In some soils the plant tends to accumulate nitrates and thus should only be consumed in moderate quantities

Use in other system of medicine:

In Rajasthan, the leaves, after boiling, are used in preparing a bread by mixing with Bajra. In Tamil Nadu, leaves and tender shoots cooked and eaten as greens.

- Like P. oleracea, leaves used as vegetable.
- Used as traditionally leafy vegetable and famine food in many African countries as Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, among others. In the Kusume and Derashe areas, when consumed in larger quantity and/or for prolonged periods of time, reported to cause anemia and body weakness.
- Plant use in skin diseases and diseases of the kidneys, bladder and lungs. 
- Uses of seeds and leaves similar to those of Portulaca oleracea.
- Used for asthma, cough, urinary discharges, inflammations and ulcers.
- Poultice of plant applied to erysipelas, hemorrhoids and abdominal complaints.
- In Guam, plant is used as an antiscorbutic.
- In Egypt bruised leaves are used as an anticephalic.
- Zulus use a plant infusion as emetic.
- In Ayurveda, used for treatment of urinary and inflammatory disorders. Leaf juice applied to abscesses. Leaf decoction used in dysentery. Plant decoction used as anthelmintic and for treatment of stomach complaints and diarrhea. 
- In Indo-China, leaf juice applied to abscesses and used as colyrium. In Nigeria, leaves applied locally to swellings. 
- Fodder: (Caution) Plant may contain oxalate in toxic quantities that may be fatal to livestock.


Portulaca quadrifida Linn. belongs to the family Portulacaceae. It is a small diffused, succulent, annual herb found throughout the tropical parts of India. It is used as a vegetable and also used for various curative purposes.

Photos of kutira -

KEY WORDS: kutira Scientific name: Portulaca quadrifida Linn.

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