Scientific Name: Calandrinia grandiflora
Common Names: Rock Purslane
Plant Type: Succulent perennial
Environment: Full sun; well drained, slightly acidic soil
Bloom: Summer bloom, purple/magenta flowers with yellow stamens to 2" across
Uses: Plant in a sunny location
Looks best in a mass planting ; excellent for rock garden planting
Other: Many plants in the Portulaca family have what look like two sepals. These are actually bracts. The bracts are green and enclose the flower bud; they remain once the flower is open but are quite inconspicuous under the large flowers.
Calandrinia grandiflora rises out of a rosette of succulent gray-green leaves. The long stems bear many buds on shorter stems which open sequentially into brilliant purple, poppy-like flowers, their centers filled with golden stamens. There are 150 species of Calandrinia in western North America, Chile, and western Australia, all areas with mediterranean climates.
The California Indians knew its relative, Calandrinia cilata, intimately, for the nourishing small black seeds that develop at the end of the flowering season, which they gathered in their seed baskets. Known as "Red Maids," it blooms in western grasslands in spring, and is only six inches tall compared to its three foot relative from Chile.
The Portulaca family has other members we know well. One is Portulaca grandiflora from Brazil, a highly popular garden plant with tiny succulent leaves, and charming rose-like flowers in shades of pinks and yellow. Our most famous member of the family is Bitterroot, Lewisia rediva, the state flower of Montana, discovered by Meriwether Lewis on his voyage of discovery. The succulent leaves of this family make them highly drought tolerant.
IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS:
Photos by Docent Joanne Taylor; profile by David Kruse-Pickler