Portulaca oleracea - I have always just called it purslane, but as it turns out there are a lot of types of Purslane, and our variety is called Common or Summer purslane. Other names for this plant are pigweed, parsley, or moss rose. See? I write these things so I can learn!
Purslane is a blessing and a curse to us here on the homestead. A blessing, because it grows everywhere at an overwhelming pace, and a curse because it grows everywhere at an overwhelming pace. I’m sure we could do better about finding uses for it, because for now we really just snack on it when we are in the garden and it is ridiculously hot outside, and sometimes we toss it into salads. I have a lot of little seedling trays in the greenhouse right now full of tomatoes, and it seems like every morning I have to pull little purslane seedlings out. They literally grow everywhere, and they are biggest in the middle of summer.
Purslane is a succulent plant that grows outward in a creeping fashion. It’s little leaves are juicy and sour and slightly salty. Summer purslane is commonly called a weed, but it is really a leaf vegetable that grows wild and quite prolifically. It also grows fast and drops seeds throughout the summer. Summer purslane is an annual that grows best in poor, compacted soils (sigh) and is highly drought tolerant. So in short, it’s right up our alley, climate-wise. I’ve always been told that purslane is most present in Greek cuisine, and it makes sense because Greece would be the right climate for purslane to be ever-present.
Like I said, our family usually just snacks on this plant and it is present in the random salad, but purslane is really good for you and we should use it and appreciate it more! (I wonder if I can lacto-ferment it?!) According to Wikipedia, purslane contains more omega 3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plant, and the particular type of omega 3 fatty acids present in purslane are actually also found in fish, which is odd and cool. Purslane is also rich in vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron. One of those little juicy leaves packs a nutritional punch!
Medicinally, purslane is said to support and build weak digestive systems, and when crushed and placed on the skin can provide relief from bee or wasp stings, rashes or other types of skin irritations. It works great on fire ant bites, which are just as common as purslane in our summer garden adventures.
In the garden, we do not pull this plant unless we have to. Leaving a creeping purslane plant to grow will stabilize soil moisture; protect your garden plants’ roots from the sun, and at the same time will save more water than it will take. The roots of the purslane plant go deep, and bring moisture to the surface that the surrounding plants can use. So purslane is a great ground cover plant, especially in a dry climate like ours.
More than likely, you have some type of purslane growing on your property, even in your potted plants! Please do not pull this beneficial little plant! Learn how to use it and if you have any recipes, medicinal or culinary, please share them with me as I am determined to appreciate and use Summer purslane more often here on the homestead.
You can share your knowledge of purslane in the comments or on the blog’s new FB page, here. As you can tell, I am not especially knowledgeable about this wild edible, so any extra info will be appreciated!! I will be posting pictures of the purslane plants around our homestead on the Facebook page, so stay tuned.
Hope everyone had a great weekend.