Purslane: Edible, Healthy, and Growing in Your Yard
Purslane is a plant that represents edible landscaping at its best: it’s free, and there’s no work involved in growing it. Considered a weed, it is seen growing in garden beds, in sidewalk cracks, and in most urban neightborhoods. The plant is considered healthy due to the plant containing lots of vitamins including vitamin A and C, minerals, and alpha-linolenic acid, one of the highly sought-after Omega-3 fatty acids. It has only 15 calories in a 100-gram portion.
Purslane (also called Portulaca olearacea) has a stem that is round and smooth, and it trails along the ground like a small vine. When young, the plants hae a green stem, but as it ages – the stem takes on a reddish color. It has small, oblong, green leaves, which form clusters and are reported to be “juicy.”
In order to harvest purslane, it is best to pick it in the morning or evening. Purslane can either be used raw in salads or sauteed as a side dish. It has a crispy texture and a interesting peppery flavor. The plant has made it onto the menu of several restaurants, and there are lots of recipes on CSA and community garden websites.
The plant was one of Gandhi’s favorite’s foods, and Henry Thoreau ate it while staying at Walden Pond. It has been part of Chinese Medicine, Japanese cooking, and has been eaten in Mediterranean for many years. The Russians dry and can it for the winter, and in Mexico it is called Verdolaga.