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Thread: Purselane, Portulaca oleracea - Garden scourge or tasty edible

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    Default Purselane, Portulaca oleracea - Garden scourge or tasty edible

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    An herbaceous weed cultivated for centuries as a food source. Archaeologists have unearthed seeds and pollen from settlements dating back thousands of years. Native to India and Persia, fast growing easily transported seeds were brought to this, and other countries, by immigrants as an easy to cultivate food source.

    I went to visit a friend one beautiful summer afternoon. As we sat on his deck overlooking his huge garden, drinking a cold beer he told me of the awful morning he had spent pulling weeds. He promptly asked me to follow him to his garden, where he proceeded to show me two large lawn waste recycling bags full of in his words, "those damned weeds". I looked in the bag and could not stop the smile from splitting my face. I asked him why he plants a garden. He looked at me like I was an idiot. I asked him to humor me, and answer my question. He said "for vegetables to eat". The "you idiot" part of his answer was implied. I said do you like to eat salad? Again he looked at me like I had lost my marbles, but simply said "yes", humoring me much the way you would a child. I said he had just spent the day pulling what is arguable the best salad green he will ever eat. He just looked at me like I had lost my mind. I continued without waiting for his response. This bag appears to be full of Purselane. He said it is, as a matter of fact the other bag is full of it as well. I reached in and grabbed a handful of the succulent plant, put it in my mouth, chewed it up, and swallowed it. He could not take it any longer; "are you nuts?" "Yes but that is beside the point" I answered. "Purselane is grown across the world as a food crop, and it has been for centuries." It is not native to the North America, but was rather brought here by immigrants as an easy to grow highly nutritious food source. It was not until the early 20th century that it fell from our diet, and was relegated to the status of obnoxious weed. At my insistence, he warily gave it a try. "Hey this is pretty good. It has a really mild flavor." I found out a while later that he then had his wife research Purselane on the internet. He called me to say I was right. That even his sister-in-law knew about Purselane.

    There are many plants like this which have fallen from culinary and or apothecary grace. It is our job to restore them to their rightful glory. Follow the links below to find more information about using plants.

    Range:
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    Identifying characteristics:
    A creeping herbaceous plant, rarely exceeding 4" in height. This plant grows in large doily looking mats. It can quickly grow to take over a tilled or bare area. The succulent deep green leaves are lobe or tear drop shaped, and grow along reddish brown fleshy branched stems.

    Habitat:
    Sunny soils of cultivated and waste areas. Lawn edges, and cracks in concrete and bricks. It loves to grow in a beautifully weeded garden.

    Parts Used:
    Entire plant

    Wild Food Use:
    If you are a gardener you are no doubt aware of the speed with which Purselane will take over freshly cultivated soil. Rather than pulling and throwing away this "weed", make use of this natural bounty, and make it the base of all of your salads. This is by far the best wild growing salad green I know of. Purselane has a very pleasant mild flavor. It is slightly lemony, and being a succulent, it has a very high water content, making it very refreshing on a hot summer day.

    I love nothing more than to make this the base of all of my summer salads. My favorite salad by far is a base of Purselane, Chicory (Cichorium intybus), Dandelion (Taraxacum), and Wild Lettuce (Lactuca canadensis). To which I add Wood Sorrel (Oxalis spp.), white sweet clover (Melilotus albus), sliced Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota) roots, Black Nightshade berries (Solanum nigrum), and diced apple. I then dress it with my homemade cherry vinaigrette. I guarantee if you try this salad you will fall in love with wild edibles. Portulaca oleracea is very high in Vitamins A and C as well as the complex Bs; It also contains numerous beneficial minerals, and omega-3 fatty acid, which are fantastic for your heart.
    Happy Foraging

    Kirk

    Livingafield.com - Information Concerning Edible And Medicinal Uses For Common Great Lakes Area Plants, As Well As Information On Numerous Aspects Of Outdoor Living And Survival.


  2. #2
    Member bobzilla's Avatar
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    Please keep up the foraging plant posts,i have been foraging since Boy Scouts and the plants you have listed are excellent,the flavor of Purslane is like nothing i have ever eaten and delicious.

    Thanks,Bob

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Purslane is an interesting plant because you can break off a piece and stick the end in dirt and it will grow. The broken end will sprout roots and it will become another plant. If you break off a seed pod before it's ready to drop seed it will still ripen and release the seeds. That's pretty dedicated to the mission. Purslane has a special place not only in the garden but in selected spots around the yard. It's my "much as you go" plant. I get some weird looks when someone walks by and I reach down, take a piece and start munching on it. It's good stuff.

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    Senior Member SARKY's Avatar
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    We have been pulling it up out of my garden and replanting where the front lawn was. We've been planting edible natives in the front as any obvious edibles would be gone before we ever got a chance to partake of them.
    I know what hunts you.

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    Senior Member cowgirlup's Avatar
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    I leave mine in the garden and add it to salads. Any good edible weed gets to stay in the garden. Clover, lambs quarter and plantain mostly. The purslane is everywhere since it regrows from a tiny piece. I thought it was funny that I found it this year in the herb section of a greenhouse for almost $4 a plant.

    This year I want to pot some and bring it inside and see if I can grow it through the winter.
    "I enjoy surviving." Yes, well I certainly hope so as the other side of that is "DEATH!"
    Sarge47

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    hunter-gatherer Canadian-guerilla's Avatar
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    Purslane is one of my favorite " pick'em and eat'em " wild edibles
    been thinking about trying to gather up some seeds

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    Purslane is an interesting plant because you can break off a piece and stick the end in dirt and it will grow. The broken end will sprout roots and it will become another plant.
    gonna try this
    i'll plant 5 broken ends and see what happens, pics to follow
    .
    Knowledge without experience is just information


    there are two types of wild food enthusiasts,
    one picks for enjoyment of adding something to a meal,
    and the second is the person who lives mostly on ( wild ) edibles

    Lydia

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    I gathered seeds and spread them around the yard a couple of years ago and was pretty successful. I've also broken off many plants and stuck them in different parts of the garden to get them to spread and been successful with that as well.

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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    If I ate all the plants in my garden I would weigh 400 pounds....LOL
    Geezer Squad....Charter Member #1
    Evoking the 50 year old rule...
    First 50 years...worried about the small stuff...second 50 years....Not so much
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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Not with that much roughage in your diet you wouldn't. You'd be too busy running.

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    If Purslane is a new plant for you then you could mistake it for Spurge. One sure way to tell the difference is to break a stem. If the sap is milky white then it is spurge, which is not edible. If it is clear like water then it is Purslane. Once you know what Purslane looks like you can't mistake the two but if you are just learning it you might pick the wrong one since both grow in the same disturbed soil and under the same conditions and Spurge sort of resembles Purslane.

  11. #11
    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    I have it growing all over the place here and it has a special "Do what thou will" place in my garden. It spreads so well, and has a great network of roots to provide support for young sprouts. I eat it all the time, just pick and eat (sometimes you gotta rinse the sand off). Tastes like a sweet lettuce. It's delicious. Been adding to salads and other dishes for quite a while now and it is definately one of my favorites.

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    Pink portulaca is equally as delicious and very pretty to look at.
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    Thanks for posting this; it is an interesting plant.

    Looked it up. Packs a punch nutritionally. Very high in Omega-3s (richest leafy vegetable source). Vitimin A, Vitamin C, Potassium, Iron, Magnesium, manganese. Little bit of calcium, zinc, phosphorus, selenium, and b-vitamins. And mucilage. And that is the leaves. Omega 3 content of seeds falls in between hemp and flax.
    http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/purslane.html

    Leave off the "e" when looking it up in the nutritive standard reference ("purslane").
    http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/index.html

    Another reason the overzealous weeder could be making a mistake:
    As a companion plant, Purslane provides ground cover to create a humid microclimate for nearby plants, stabilizing ground moisture. Its deep roots bring up moisture and nutrients that those plants can use, and some, including corn, will "follow" purslane roots down through harder soil than they can penetrate on their own. It is known as a beneficial weed in places that don't already grow it as a crop in its own right.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portulaca_oleracea
    It does have high levels of oxalate which may adversely affect iron and calcium absorption and may be a risk factor for kidney stones (low oxalate diet may help even though people with kidney stones don't have substantially elevated oxalate levels). Oxalate is however present in many leafy greens, seeds, and nuts and sometimes produced in the body. Inhibition of calcium by oxalate is a two way street as the two bind together and don't get absorbed. Certain gut bacteria consume oxalate but these can be wiped out by antibiotic use or possibly poor diets that favor other microbes. Yogurt reduces bioavailability of oxalate (though not best microbes for this purpose). Low oxalate diet may help with some other diseases. The role of oxalate is complicated. Advice that "nutrient x is involved in disease Y, avoid X" has often missed the forest for the trees and backfired or missed root causes. http://www.lowoxalate.info/papers/mechanisms.html

    But since it is about 1% oxalate, those with kidney stones or other oxalate relate conditions should be careful.
    http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/index.html

    When I first learned about Omega-3s, I was struck by how hard it seemed to be to come by if you didn't eat or have access to cold water fish. How did humans and animals get enough? If you look only at the plants we consume now (supermarket) it seems in short supply. Flax, hemp, and purselane are examples that were largely eradicated from American diets. Also Chia and Psyllium. Plantain/Plantago is related to Psyllium. Domesticated animals have much less than wild game. Stuff that didn't fit into the industrialized food system. Meanwhile, high quantities of Omega-6 and trans fats interfere.

    And how did we get vitamin C in non-tropical areas? Turns out there are many more concentrated sources than citrus fruit.

    Purslane apparently doesn't store/transport well. It does not appear to be native to the US (although there is evidence to suggest it may have grown in part of Ontario before Columbus) and thus was apparently spread by immigrants.

    At first it seems like nutrition would be severely limited without a long distance food transportation system but maybe the opposite is more true. At the least, we have displaced local sources of nutrients for distant ones. We seem to have a lot of diseases from modern diet.

  13. #13

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    What I have been able to gather from my reading on the subject is that Portulaca oleracea came to this country as seeds in the bags of immigrants who were looking to plant an easy to grow nutritous food source.
    Happy Foraging

    Kirk

    Livingafield.com - Information Concerning Edible And Medicinal Uses For Common Great Lakes Area Plants, As Well As Information On Numerous Aspects Of Outdoor Living And Survival.

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Most "weeds" came to this country as bedding and fodder for farm animals on board ships. All of it was usually dumped in the harbor once they arrived and offloaded the animals. Seeds from those plants then made their way to shore and took root, so to speak. I don't know about purslane, per se.

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    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    Spurge. It's easy to tell the difference when you have them side-by-side.
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    Showing the milky sap.
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