Also known as Little hogweed, Portulaca oleracea, purslane, is a semisucculent trailing plant that's often considered a common weed. It can grow in small amounts of soil where it does surprisingly well, but often will find its way into gardens, potted plants, and flower beds.
P. oleracea is an annual with fleshy leaves and small yellow flowers appearing in summer. Although purslane can grow in most soils, it seems to prefer rich organic matter, where it thrives. It grows wild around most of the world and in many countries is cultivated as a nutritious food and/or valued as a medicinal plant.
Purslane is a nutritious leafy vegetable rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. The edible leaves are high in fiber and low in calories and fats.
Purslane compares to spinach in the leafy greens category, and its nutritional value actually exceeds that of spinach. It's loaded with high amounts of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Riboflavin, Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, Iron, Phosphorus, Copper, Zinc, Folate, Chromium and Manganese.
For more nutritional information on P. oleracea, you can look HERE.
The tasty leaves can be eaten raw in salads or blended with vegetable drinks for the highest nutritional value. It is often compared to watercress in flavor and consistency. I find the flavor is mildly tangy; my husband says it has a sour, lemony flavor. It can also be used in cooked stews or soups, steamed, fried or boiled and the stems are good pickled. Add it to your seasonal tomatoes and cucumbers for extra flavor. It would make a perfect addition to a summer gazpacho. Today we enjoyed purslane added to couscous with tomatoes and cucumbers.
If you have chickens, they will nutritionally benefit from eating purslane. Mine love it and will try any means to infiltrate the garden or pots where it grows. This means nutritious eggs, high in Omega-3!
Along with its culinary qualities, purslane has been used as a medicinal herb for many centuries, going back to the first century. Throughout history, purslane has been attributed as a beneficial cure for many ailments.
In folk medicine it was used often as an antiseptic, anti-fungal, diuretic, antispasmodic, fever reducing, anti-inflammatory and has been used in the treatment of cancer and heart disease. It continues to be used for many of these and other ailments, including the ability to help alleviate irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis.
Purslane grows easily from seed.
Purslane is quite the valuable little weed. Next time you're thinking of tossing it, give it a taste, you may be pleasantly surprised.
Be sure the greens you eat have not been treated with herbicides.
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