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a family of dicotyledonous plants including herbs and less often dwarf shrubs and subshrubs. The leaves are generally fleshy, with scalelike stipules or stipules in the form of an axillary fascicle of trichomes. The perianth consists of petaloid sepals, to which bracts are attached. The gynoceum has two to eight carpels, and the ovary is superior or, less frequently, partly inferior. The fruit is a capsule.
There are approximately 20 genera embracing 500 species. The plants are found in both hemispheres, primarily in the warm and temperate zones. They are particularly widespread in the Americas—on the Pacific coast and in the Andes. The USSR has three or four genera, with ten or 12 species, distributed primarily in the arctic, Eastern Siberia, and the Far East. They are occasionally encountered in Middle Asia, the Caucasus, and the European USSR. Some Portulacaceae are raised as vegetables (Portulaca oleracea, species of the genus Talinum). Some species are ornamentals, primarily species of the genera Calandrinia and Portulaca.