Foraging for Purslane

Purslane, Portulaca oleracea, is a common garden weed. You may also hear it called pigeweed, little hogweed, fatweed, or pusley.

You’ll find it throughout most of the United States, but it is native to India and Persia. It has been spread throughout most continents as a food crop. You can sometimes find cultivated varieties in the United States, but the tend to contain less flavor.

We purposely grow purslane in our garden so we have easy access to this highly nutritious plant.

Identification:

Braching: Opposite

Seeds: In pods and look like little barrels.

Stem: Red, round, hollow.

Leaves: Round, rubbery, usually roughly oval.

Flowers: Yellow, five petals, indented at the end.

Growth Pattern: Low growing.

Habitat: Likes full sun and good water. A native plant to India, but spread throughout the world as a food crop.

Edibility:

The entire plant is edible except for the root. You can pickle it, eat it raw in a salad or plain, add it to soups or smoothies. It will thicken a soup or sauce.

Purslane has a very nice crunch to it, making it a great salad addition. The sour flavor also gives it a nice, mood-boosting, energizing snack or meal. It makes a wonderful salad on its own, though since I don’t have a ton of it growing right now, I usually mix it in with some of the weeds I have that are more plentiful, like violet, sheep sorrel, and chickweed.

Nutrition:

Purslane contains 93% water, but it still is nutrient-packed. All of these are based on daily values:

  • Vitamin A: 26%
  • Vitamin C: 35%
  • Magnesium: 17%
  • Manganese: 15%
  • Potassium: 14%
  • Iron: 11%
  • Calcium: 7%
  • Also small amounts of Vitamins B1, B2, B3, folate, copper, and phosphorus.

And if you’re trying to keep to a low-calorie diet, this amazing plant only has 16 calories, making it one of the most nutrient-dense of all plants.

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