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Home > Features > Living Well > Food > Wild Garden > Purslane

GreenSense- The Wild Garden


Purslane, Portulaca oleracea

Portulaca oleracea

The perfect midsummer green, purslane appears just when other wild greens are becoming too bitter to eat. You'll find it in fields, vacant lots, waste sites and especially in the garden, where, like lambsquarters, it can be one of your tastiest, most nutritious, most prolific crops, if you let it (many people think it's "just a weed"). It's an annual, lies flat or nearly flat on the ground, unless there's grass to support it, and tends to form a mat. The deep green leaves are notably shiny and fleshy, broadest near the tip. The stems are smooth, shiny and fleshy. The small, yellow petaled flowers open only in the sunshine.

Purslane is rich in vitamins and minerals (especially iron) and has the most lipid-lowering, omega-3 fatty acids of any vegetable yet examined. A little less than a cup of fresh purslane leaves provides the minimum daily requirement of alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid. Better yet, purslane has 6 times the vitamin E of spinach, along with substantial amounts of vitamins C and A. On top of all that, it tastes good, too. Purslane has a slightly tangy flavor. When cooked, it has an okra-like quality that lends body to sauces and soups.

To use purslane, gather the tender young shoots for greens (If you pluck rather than uproot, the plant will continue to produce new, tender growth throughout the summer.). Harvest the stems for pickles, and the seeds for grain.


Use the young tender shoots in salads, stir fries, casseroles, and for Purslaned Beans. They can also be dried for winter use to thicken soups and stews. To make pickles with the stems, simply replace the cucumbers in your favorite pickle recipe with purslane stems.

When the plants go to seed, pull them and spread to dry on a large plastic sheet. When they're dry, thresh them with sticks to knock the seeds loose, then remove the stems and winnow the seeds. Grind in a seed grinder, flour grinder, or blender and mix half and half with wheat flour for breads, pancakes, muffins, etc.






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