Foraging for Purslane: An Early Spring Green Right in your Backyard 18

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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.

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!

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 the leaves to salads and smoothies and nobody around here has complained. The leaves You might know purslane as a weed (as I once did) but it's a forager's delight. This early spring green is prolific where it's naturalized and incredibly good for you, too. You might even want to transplant some into your vegetable garden!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.

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 get it established in your yard. You’ll like having it close at hand, I think.

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18 thoughts on “Foraging for Purslane: An Early Spring Green Right in your Backyard

  • 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 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.”