Talinum triangulare (Jacq.) Willd.

Talinum triangulare (Jacq.) Willd.




Portulaca triangularis Jacq., P. racemosa L., T. racemosum (L.) Rohrb.

Vernacular Names

English Waterleaf, Surinam purslane, sweetheart.
Indonesia Poslen (West Java), krokot belanda.
Papua New Guinea kumu manus.
Philippines Talilong (Tagalog), galaghati (Subanon), biala (Marinduque).
Thailand som-kaoli (Bangkok), som-khon (Bangkok), som-chin (northern).
Vietnam th[oor] nh[aa]n s[aa]m
French Grassé.

Geographical Distributions

Talinum triangulare is probably native to tropical America. Its complete native range, however, is difficult to ascertain because it is easily transported and easily naturalises. T. triangulare has become a weed with pantropical distribution, still extending its range. It was introduced into Java in 1915 from Surinam by the Bogor Botanic Gardens. Elsewhere in Southeast Asia its introduction is also relatively recent.


T. trianulare is an erect perennial herb with swollen roots and obtuse-angular to terete, hairless and succulent stems where it can grow measure about 30-100 cm tall. The branches are with 2 lateral and basal buds.

The leaves are arranged spirally to nearly opposite, often crowded at the top of the stem and indistinctly or shortly petioled. The leaf-blades are usually spoon-shaped, with a size of measure about 3-15 cm x 1-6 cm, entire and succulent, obtuse to rounded and occasionally notched at the apex.

The inflorescence is a long peduncled, terminal, corymboid thyrsus, with a size of measure about  5-30 cm long, with a 2-5 erect, sharply triangular axes where each with 8-28-flowered. The flowers are bisexual and it is a measure about 0.5-2.5 cm in diametre. The pedicels elongate after anthesis. There are 2 sepals. They are free, green in colour and persistent. The 5 pink petals are obovate in shape and up to measuring 10 mm x 4 mm. The stamens are 20-40. Style is 2-3-fid while the ovary is superior.

The yellow fruit is capsular, ellipsoid to globular in shape, with a size of measure 4-7 mm long, 2-3-valved and elastically dehiscent.

The seeds are numerous, compressed spherical-kidney-shaped, with a size of measure about 0.8-1.2 mm long, granulate, smooth and black shining in colour.


Ecology / Cultivation

T. triangulare occurs naturally on roadsides, waste places, and forest edges, from sea-level up to 1000 m. It has a C4-cycle photosynthetic pathway, resulting in a high level of dry matter production under hot tropical conditions. It possesses a remarkable degree of drought tolerance. For good production it needs a soil rich in humus or heavily manured, and adequate moisture.

Line Drawing / Photograph



    1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 8: Vegetables.