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Eat Your Weeds: Purslane Edition

Updated: Apr 6, 2021

Eat Your Weeds: Purslane Edition

Often viewed as a weed, Portulaca oleracea, also known as Purslane, is a succulent plant that can be eaten raw or cooked.

Before you pull that purslane - it can actually be a good companion to some of our garden plants. Because it is a ground cover, it can help create a humid environment and maintain ground moisture. It can also use its deep taproot to bring up moisture and nutrients from deeper soil. Some plants, like corn, will follow purslane roots down through harder soil to develop a deeper root system.

Look for succulent oval leaves on a reddish stem. Pairs of leaves grow directly across from each other on the stems. Though it is a ground cover, the plant does grow vertically a bit. When flowering, the flowers are small and yellow.

Do not confuse with spotted spurge, which has thinner leaves, hairy stems, and grows close to the ground with small red spots on the leaves. Spotted spurge is mildly toxic and can cause skin irritation. The easiest way to tell the difference between these two, if you are unsure, is to break a stem. If there is milky sap inside it is NOT PURSLANE, but spotted spurge.

Here they are growing side by side in our peanut bed. On the left we see spotted spurge, on the right is purslane.

Purslane stems, leaves, and flower buds are all edible. You can harvest full or partial plants. Either way, make sure you are collecting it from a safe area. The soil in a vacant lot might be contaminated, use caution when harvesting and always wash thoroughly before eating!

Purslane is crunchy and slightly citrusy or salty, similar to spinach.

It contains antioxidants, minerals, and is high in Omega-3 Fatty Acids, a fat that the body cannot produce and must be consumed through diet.

Try it in place of spinach or lettuce in a salad or sandwich. It is a popular addition to chimichurri, or steamed as a side dish. Get creative! You may even be able to find purslane for sale at the farmer’s market!

Did you harvest purslane? Tell us what you did with it!

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