Friday, July 22, 2011

Purslane



This is purslane (Portulaca oleracea). I am sure most gardeners have seen this plant growing in their gardens. Most of you have probably been pulling it up and tossing it like a weed. I was too, until recently, when I became aware of it's nutritional value. Now I encourage it to grow. I even transplant it into the flowerbed as a ground cover. I like that it does well in dry conditions, like the non stop heat and no rain we've had for weeks now. I am also glad it does not form such a thick mat that the perennials cannot grow through it.

The stems, leaves and flower buds are all edible. It can be eaten raw, stir fried or cooked like spinach. It's good in stews and soups too.

According to Wikipedia, purslane contains an extraordinary amount of EPA, an Omega-3 fatty acid normally found mostly in fish, some algae and flax seeds. It also contains vitamins A, C, B, cartenoids, magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron. In addition to all of this, it has two pigments, red and yellow, that are potent antioxidants and have been found to have antimutagenic (anticancer) properties in laboratory studies.

Purslane is tangy if you pick it in the morning, but mellows out more in the afternoon. It's the malic acid that makes it tangy but this converts to sugar as the day goes by.

As well as great to eat, it also has a deep root system that bring up moisture and nutrients for surrounding plants, and some, including corn, will "follow" purslane roots down through harder soil than they cannot penetrate on their own.

Known as Ma Chi Xian in Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is used to treat infections or bleeding of the genito-urinary tract as well as dysentery. The fresh herb may also be applied topically to relieve sores and insect or snake bites on the skin. (Get that, INSECT bites! Must try that... )

I, myself, am going to start cultivating it. It am going to chop it and freeze like spinach and use it as a ground cover in the ornamental gardens.

Ok, people, with all of this information, how many of you are still going to consider purslane a weed? Lets save it for the garden!

I might even have seeds for sale this fall, maybe.

12 comments:

Farmgirl Cyn said...

I wonder how it would do as a poultice of sorts on a canker sore inside the mouth? We have it growing as a weed in the herb garden and I just let 'er go.

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

There are other herbs specifically recommended for healing canker sores. The best one seems to be aloe vera, also chammomile, calendule, nettle.

Mrs.Pickles said...

I think I might still see it as a weed, but I will try anything at least once. Thanks for the info!

Julia said...

How interesting. Thanks for sharing.

icebear said...

i also let mine grow. haven't brought myself to try eating it yet (i have decided i will now), but i've discovered that though it might be a 'weed' its not a noxious one.

*~*~*~*~Tonia said...

I just saw some of this in my garden.. One of my girls asked what it was ...I said I dont know probably just a weed but honestly I think there is no such thing as Just a weed!! LOL.. I thought it was pretty and a good ground cover! Thank you for the info!

Also for canker sore Lemon Balm works wonders!!

Michelle's Green Thumb said...

Can you believe I actually bought purslane seeds this year? Since sowing it - in an unmarked area, I'm not sure that they came up or else I was unable to identify it & yanked it out. I think I will resow it today in the spot where the carrots decided they didn't like it & see what comes up.
Chickweed is also edible - think: pesto!!

The Japanese Redneck said...

I may have seen it...But, I'm scared to eat or use things that I don't buy for fear of thinking it's something and it's really not what I thought it was suppose to be.

Anonymous said...

I just went to a canning class and one of the demonstrations was canning it pickled! She did some with the tuffer stems and some with the smaller pads to see which we liked best and wanted to can ourselves. The stems had more crunch naturally but not that much. Naturally you do to want to pick it in eat places that have been sprayed with any bad stuff or that animals are around. Sarah

6 sheep and a llama said...

Thanks for the great information. This is the year that I decided I should eat more local free food- I will definitely give purslane a try. I am also trying to decide what to add to the pasture for the sheep and llama and chickens- have been thinking about a wire fence garden until things get going. Haven't read your blog in awhile. Good to be back.

Anonymous said...

we mexicans call them verdolagas,they are considered "poor mens food". we eat just the leafy part,boil them, and fry them with fresh onion,garlic,tomato. Some people eat them with pork,or with a green chile sauce, with pinto beans and tortillas. like my sister said, you never know when hard times well come,they are free and spreed quickly.

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

I have been using it for insect bites and it works! It takes the itch out of a mosquito bite. I just crush a leaf and rub against the bite. I am starting a salve for bug bites today and putting mostly perslane in it.