Portulaca comes from the Latin portula, meaning "little gate," for the top of the seed capsule that opens like a gate.
Portulaca grandiflora is a low, fleshy, trailing perennial herb, attaining a height of 15 to 30 centimeters. Stems are slender and terete, prostrate or ascending, with hairy joints. Leaves are alternate, small, fleshy, clustered and 2 centimeters long. Flowers are showy, terminal, up to 3 centimeters across, subtended by clustered leaves. Petals are five, red, white, yellow, orange, or pink, opening in mid-morning and closing by mid-afternoon. Fruit is a small capsule, releasing tiny seeds when ripe.
- Widely cultivated in the Philippines.
- Popular ground cover plant.
- Native to Brazil.
- Petals have yielded free betalamic acid, together with betaxanthins. Tyrosine and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) are precursors of betalain biosynthesis. (3)
- Total ash and acid-insoluble ash contents were not more than 19% and 1% w/w, respectively.
- Phytochemical screening of aerial parts yielded sterols, carotenoids, polyphenolic acids, flavonoids, polysaccharides, reducing agents and triterpenoids. (see study below) (12)
- Considered depurative.
Leaves, stems, juice.
- Leaves are edible, raw or cooked.
- Seeds, raw or cooked; can be ground into a powder and used in soups or added to cereals.
- Root is cooked.
- No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
- Used for the treatment of cirrhosis of the liver, pharyngeal pain and swelling.
- Leaves used for scurvy.
- Fresh juice of leaves and stems applied to snake and insect bites, burns, scalds, and eczema.
- In Chinese medicine, used to treat various tumors. One of the ingredients of the Chinese herbal medicine, Tumoclear (Kang zhong pian) formulated for tumor and cancer care.
- In Thai medicine, aerial parts used for treatment of sore throat, skin rash and detoxification.
- Leaves and flowers worn around the neck to relieve muscle spasms and neck stiffness.
- Flowers and leaves placed on child's bed to drive evil spirits away. (9)
• Chronic Toxicity Study: Study evaluated the toxic effects of Portulaca grandiflora aqueous extract in male and female Wistar rats for 6 months. The water extract at given doses of 10, 100, and 1000 mg/k per day did not induce any detrimental effect in rats. (2)
• Phytoremediation Potential : Study showed wild and tissue cultured plants of P. grandiflora were able to decolorize sulfonated diazo dye Navy Blue HE2R up to 98% in 40 h. The significant induction in the activities of lignin peroxidase, tyrosinase and DCIP reductase was observed in roots during dye decolorization. Phytotoxicity study showed reduction in toxicity due to metabolites formed after dye degradation. (5)
• Safety Study / Phase 1 Trial / Healthy Human Volunteers: A phase 1 clinical trial in 16 healthy volunteers investigated the safety of P. grandiflora, as well as preliminarily assess its efficacy on the immune system. The aqueous extract at 500 mg/day dose given to normal volunteers for 2 months was found to be safe. (7)
• Effect on Human Lymphocyte Activity: Study showed P. grandiflora extract enhanced lymphocyte proliferation, suggesting a possible role as putative immunostimulant. (8)
• Antioxidant / Lipid Regulating Effects / Betacyanin Extract: Study of a betacyanin extract of Portulaca grandiflora showed scavenging effects which superoxide anion, OH, and DPPH free radicals. The betacyanin extract significantly reduced total cholesterol, TG, LDL-C, Apo B. It also significantly decreased the atherosclerosis index suggesting an atherosclerosis preventive effect. (10)
• Portulene Acetal: A new clerodane diterpenoid was isolated as a minor constituent from P. grandiflora, a compound that might be significant in the biosynthesis and chemosystematics of constituents of the genus Portulaca. Its features provide clues for the biosynthesis of portulaca. (11)
• Antibacterial / Aerial Parts: Study of alcoholic extract of aerial parts showed varying degrees of inhibition against all bacterial strains tested, with more MIC for Pseudomonas aeruginosa followed by C. albicans. (see constituents above) (12)
• Fluoride Phytoremediation: Fluoride is one of the common environmental pollutant in soil and water. Study evaluated the possible role of P. grandiflora and B. oleracea plants to uptake and accumulate fluoride from water. The accumulation of fluoride was comparatively more in root than on leaf parts in both studied plants. Results showed both plants can clean fluoride contaminated water and presents a cost effective and ecofriendly alternative for in situ treatment of soil and water samples. (13)
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