Identifying purslane — and intentionally growing purslane — is one of the easiest ways to harvest early spring greens.
The idea of growing 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 this “weed” was edible. I have to admit I felt a little silly transplanting a purslane plant from my neighbors yard into my own.
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.
Turns out, people savvier than me forage for purslane in the springtime, seeking it out as a local addition to their meal plan.
My transplanted purslane is now thriving, mingling freely with beets and tomatillos. 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 pull a couple of plants by the root so you can begin growing purslane in your yard. You’ll like having it close at hand, I think.
You might also like:
- How to Ethically Forage for Edible Plants
- Homesteading in the City
- Survive and Thrive in Tough Economic Times
- Eating Flowers: Perk Up Your Salads