Purslane is a weedy bane of many gardeners and yard perfectionists. Portulaca oleracea is tenacious, grows in a variety of soils, and regrows from seeds and fragments of stem. An important question for any gardener trying without success to eradicate this weed is, can you eat purslane?
Is Purslane Safe to Eat?
Purslane is a pretty tough weed. Native to India and the Middle East, this weed has spread throughout the world. It is a succulent, so you’ll see fleshy little leaves. The stems grow low to the ground, nearly flat, and the plant produces yellow flowers. Some people describe purslane as looking like a baby jade plant. It grows in a range of soils and most heartily in hot, sunny areas. A common spot to see it is in cracks in the sidewalk or driveway.
It may be tough and tenacious, but purslane is not just a weed; it is also edible. If you can’t beat it, eat it. This is a great philosophy to live by if you have tried to control purslane with limited success. There are even cultivated varieties of purslane, but if you already have it invading your garden, start there for a new culinary adventure.
How to Use Purslane in the Kitchen
Using edible purslane plants, you can generally treat them like any other leafy green in your recipes, particularly as a substitute for spinach or watercress. The flavor is mild to sweet and slightly acidic. Nutritionally purslane contains omega-3 fatty acids, iron, vitamin C, several B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and high levels of vitamin A compared to other leafy greens.
The simplest way to enjoy purslane herbs in food is to eat it fresh and raw, any way you would spinach. Use it in salads, as greens in a sandwich, or as a green topping for tacos and soup. Purslane also stands up to some heat. When cooking with purslane, though, sauté gently; overcooking will make it slimy. You can even pickle purslane for a bright, peppery flavor.
If you do decide to eat purslane from your yard or garden, wash it very well first. Avoid using pesticides and herbicides in your yard before you harvest the succulent leaves of this tasty weed.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for educational and gardening purposes only. Before using or ingesting ANY herb or plant for medicinal purposes or otherwise, please consult a physician, medical herbalist, or other suitable professional for advice.
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Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.
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