Foraging for Purslane: An Early Spring Green Right in your Backyard — and it’s FREE 19


Identifying the common purslane weed — and intentionally growing purslane — is one of the easiest ways to harvest early spring greens.

The idea of growing common purslane on purpose — or at least allowing it to remain in my garden — was a new one to me.

You see, until recently, I had no idea that purslane weed was edible.

purslane plant with yellow flowers

Here’s how it looked before my enlightenment:

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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 and snails didn’t get them, curse this thriving purslane weed that was growing rampantly, and pull them all out.

The plant itself is very pretty – low growing and not overly aggressive, with teardrop shaped leaves – but it just didn’t belong there, in my garden.

Sure, now it seems silly.

Foraging for common purslane weed

Turns out, people savvier than me forage for common purslane in the springtime, seeking it out as a local addition to their meal plan.

And here I was, pulling it out and tossing it into the compost.

Related:

Are you tossing out a perfectly good leafy green while you wait for the "real" garden to grow? Purslane is one of your garden's earliest greens!

Growing purslane

I have to admit I felt a little silly transplanting common purslane weed from my neighbor’s yard into my own.

And yet, it made perfect sense now that I knew it was an edible spring green.

My transplanted purslane is now thriving, mingling freely with beets and tomatillos. (It spreads and stays low, so it acts as a living mulch, too, keeping down the weeds.)

I’ve added purslane 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.) Purslane flowers are a bright yellow.

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.

If you’ve been wanting to try your hand at foraging for some wild edibles, purslane is a really easy place to start.

But while you’re harvesting purslane for your dinner table, be sure to dig a couple of plants out by the root so you can begin growing purslane in your yard.

You’ll like having it close at hand, I think.

This post was originally published in March, 2013. Updated, April 2018.

Are you tossing out a perfectly good leafy green while you wait for the


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19 thoughts on “Foraging for Purslane: An Early Spring Green Right in your Backyard — and it’s FREE

  • 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

    • Kris Bordessa Post author

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

  • Alexandra

    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 Post author

      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.

  • 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 out.now in2015 people are finding the value of weeds Maria

  • Florita Arichea

    A whole lot of people including me do not know this is healthy. Where I came from this a wild weed that grows abundantly in the fields. We gather these by the sacks, chop them up and boil them in big vats and feed it to the hogs. If it is that good then it could be a good and healthy food for a lot of people. If and when it becomes accepted and popular, it will join all the other leafy vegetables in the market and will be just as expensive.

  • Toes

    No need to transplant it with roots “Purslane is an annual reproducing from seeds and from stem pieces. Seeds of purslane have been known to stay viable for 40 years in the soil… If you are trying to control purslane the number one rule is don’t let it go to seed. About three weeks after you notice seedlings, the flowers and seeds will be produced. Also plants or plant pieces that are uprooted but not removed can root back into the soil… Running a tiller through purslane is called purslane multiplication.” http://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/homeowners/030726.html

  • KATHY WILLIAMS

    I HAD NO IDEA THIS WAS SO EATIBLE UNTIL JUST NOW WHEN THE BEE KEAPER REMOVING HONEY BEES FROM OUR HOUSE ATE SOME FRON A FLOWER POT OF MINE. LAST SUMMER I HAD ONE POT ANOW I HAVE 6 LARGE BECAUSE I FOUND THAT WHEN I TRIM IT I JUST LAY IT INTO ANIOTHER POT COVER WITH A LITTLE DIRT AND IT ROOTS OVERNIGHT….IT HAD PRETTY RED AND YELLOW FLORWERS THAT OPEN IN THE MORNING AND CLOSE IN THE EVENING JUST LIKE MORNING GLORIES. I JUST LOVE IT AND AM ANXIOUS TO TRY IT IN OUR SALADS. KATHY WILLIAMS