Perfectly Purslane

Are you tossing out a perfectly good leafy green while you wait for the "real" garden to grow?I have to admit I felt a little silly transplanting a purslane plant from my neighbors yard into my own. You see, until recently, I had no idea that this “weed” was edible.

Here’s how it looked: In early spring I’d prepare my garden beds, plant seeds of lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and bok choy, wait for them to sprout, hope the snails didn’t get them, curse these thriving weeds with teardrop shaped leaves, and pull them out. The plant itself is very pretty – low growing and not overly aggressive – but it just didn’t belong there, in my garden. Sure, now it seems silly.

My purslane is now thriving, mingling freely with beets and tomatillos. I’ve added the leaves to salads and smoothies and nobody around here has complained. The leaves are somewhat succulent with a mild flavor. (Not fuzzy and offensive on the tongue like uncooked dandelion greens.) And according to Mother Earth News,

Purslane contains high amounts of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid generally found in vegetables, as well as small amounts of EPA and DHA, omega-3 fatty acids more commonly found in fish.

It’s also high in vitamins A, C and E, and in dietary minerals such as iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium and manganese.

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  • April ,

    I haven’t found any purslane yet, or at least I hadn’t identified it. There is something that grows around here called mallow that is supposed to be an edible “weed”. I haven’t been courageous enough to try it yet, but it pops up in my garden. Maybe this will be my year to try it. I will look more carefully for the purslane. I know it grows here, so I doubt my acre is somehow missing it. Thanks for the great picture.

    • Marie ,

      in Central NY it grows close to the ground, has round red stems
      makes wonderful infused vinegars

  • I had some growing in my garden when I lived in SC but I don’t have any here…haven’t seen it growing anywhere around us!

    • Kris Bordessa ,

      Sonia, I should have plenty to share in no time! 😉

  • I saw this at the farmers market last spring and could not believe my eyes. I always pulled it up, thinking it was a weed. Besides adding it to smoothies, what is a good way to cook it? Braised with garlic?? Do you harvest only the tips??

    • Kris Bordessa ,

      I harvest only the teardrop shaped leaves. I have an aversion to cooked greens, but I have added it to soups and also salads.

  • Brette ,

    I have never tried purslane. I haven’t seen any in my yard but will keep an eye open as I go for walks!

  • cathy ,

    Ha HA! I found this growing in an area I have been trying to get ground cover to grow. I pulled them out once, they came back, I noticed they had little flowers as well, and just decided to leave it, as it is spreading better than the “stepables” plants I bought! Now I know I can also pick the leaves for salads! Of course, will have to clean them well… I have dogs…

  • Russ ,

    steamed with onion then add one can of stewed tomatoes let simmer for short time, yummy

  • pam ,

    I have it growing in my garden and pick it when I pick my lettuce along with lambs quarters. Homemade balsamic vinegarette.  Yummy !! 

  • Cautious Forager ,

    Just don’t forget that purslane has a toxic lookalike! True purslane has juicy, bright-green leaves; spurge looks like purslane but has flatter leaves and a milky sap.

  • I am from India and the poorer class of people , in my country forage these for their food. I accidentally discovered this green in my garden and was identified by my garden help as an edible plant. I have now learnt from her how to use this in my cooking . See my post ( Link below) for a bit of info on this very nutritive plant.

  • maria ,

    I am 66 years old I was born in Sicily when we came to Australia my mother would pick this plant growing in cracks in the streets of north Melbourne where we lived, when we went to visit an aunt of my mothers and she would make it into a salad later as I got older and I would hear Australia born people criticism that as they called us wogs ,we were picking weeds as I explained to them to the people that pick them there not weeds I am very proud of my parents because they were survivors and not waiting on handout and still in Sicily today there’s no hand in2015 people are finding the value of weeds Maria

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