All About Purslane

Posted by @Boopaints on
Living in a dry heat with high temperatures between 105 and 110 during the summer, purslane laughs in your face and thrives here in Phoenix, Arizona. Add some incredible, edible ornamental purslane to your garden this summer! A salsa with purslane recipe is included in the article.

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Purslane is my favorite summer plant and I start looking for its appearance in the Phoenix nurseries in late May. Originally coming from India, it was grown as a food source many centuries ago. It is considered one of the foods from the Biblical period, is rich in vitamin A, C and E, and has the most Omega-3 fatty acids of any leafy vegetable. Now it is grown around the world, both as a food source and as a summer plant.


In the Mediterranean, it is used in soups and salads and has lots of potential health benefits. It lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels because of its omega-3 fatty acids. In Mexico it is often used in omelets, stews and many other recipes. For a very intense flavor, the wilder varieties are much tastier. Some say it has a lemony taste, or is similar to watercress, but I've also heard people compare it to the taste of spinach.

Portulaca oleracea, the green and wildest variety, has tiny yellow flowers. It is a serious weed to most farmers and they want to get rid of it, but it's very difficult to do.  It reseeds itself when you disturb the plants. The best way is just to eat it, I tell my farmer buddies. Portulaca sativa is golden purslane and it's often found in herb gardens and is the favorite among chefs.

Portulaca umbraticola and Portulaca grandiflora are the ornamental purslanes you see hanging in baskets at the nurseries. There are dozens of varieties with bright colorful blooms and the benefit of being a drought-friendly plant. Ornamental purslane produces flowers all summer and into fall in warmer climates. A few years ago, when the weather didn't cool off, I had it growing in November. One winter I brought some inside the house and kept it in a sunny window.  That March it surprised me with more blooms. I have even cut a few blooms for a vase. The one in the photo also has Moss Rose, another flower from the portulaca family. 

Purslane blooms open around 9:00 in the morning and close for good at various times in the day, depending on the heat. Mine that received morning sun and afternoon shade stayed open until late afternoon, but the ones in full sun closed around 2:00. New blooms open the next day and start the show all over again. Last year I planted several of each color in one large hanging basket and the color show was incredible. Several years ago I had every color available: white, pink, fuchsia, rose, yellow, peach, orange, and lavender! The bees went crazy and gave me a single bloom with two white petals and three pink ones. That was my favorite purslane summer of all.

Plant breeders have outdone themselves with larger 2" blooms, double flowers, and even some new colors. Ornamental purslane is wonderful in hanging baskets, spilling over the sides. It's perfect in rock gardens, and the ease of growing it is incredible. Not needing much water is a bonus, but mine always get a little water every day because of the rest of my garden screaming for H20 in the summer months. To propagate, cut off a piece of the stem, plant in potting soil or ordinary garden dirt, and in a short time you'll have it growing like crazy.




I use a food processor to make my salsa that I adapted from a recipe I received while on a cruise in Puerto Vallarta. I add the ingredients to a huge bowl as they come from the food processor. Chilling overnight brings out the best flavor, but it’s rare that we don’t start eating it within an hour. The second day the salsa is even better as the flavors combine. This is a chunky style pico di gallo salsa, but if you prefer a soupy one, just puree everything!

16 Roma tomatoes, diced

4 tomatillos, diced

3 cups of purslane leaves and new stems, diced

4 green chiles, diced

2 yellow and 2 red bell peppers, diced

1 white or purple onion, diced

1 bunch of green onions, diced

2 to 4 jalapeños, diced fine (I like my salsa hot)

1 bunch of fresh cilantro, diced fine

The juice of 2 limes

2 garlic cloves, diced fine, or garlic powder to taste

Lawry’s seasoned salt, to taste

Optional: 2 habanera peppers. If you are what we call a "wimp" with your salsa, leave out the jalapeños. I am not a measuring-type cook: I simply dice, chop, and mix.  Forgive the lack of clear and concise instructions. Every time I make salsa, it turns out differently. When purslane is not in season, I omit it, but this year I plan to grow enough and freeze it for salsa making.


Comments and discussion:
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Will they survive the winter? by silvitaemm Nov 14, 2019 9:49 AM 8
Purslane. Seed collection, Preserving. by Durgan Oct 6, 2018 8:17 AM 3
How do you grown them in a rock garden please? by TOODA Aug 21, 2018 2:03 PM 0
My 4 purslane have stopped blooming!!! by sgirl Sep 5, 2016 10:39 PM 1
Untitled by joannaflo Jul 13, 2016 4:48 PM 0
Purslane and Portulaca Forum by Boopaints Jun 20, 2016 12:30 AM 5
A low desert question... by sheryl Jan 4, 2015 12:02 PM 1
I grow a Mediteranian variety by valleylynn Jun 19, 2014 9:56 AM 32
Salad and salsa...really? by Bubbles Jul 14, 2011 10:15 PM 1
Salsa by LindaTX8 Aug 20, 2010 3:30 PM 1
I love purslane by angele Jun 18, 2010 10:43 PM 2
Purslane is one of my very favorites! by UniQueTreasures Mar 28, 2010 3:05 PM 1

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