Purslane, a New Discovery!


Post by community member:


This is purslane (Portulaca oleracea). I am sure most gardeners have seen this plant growing in their gardens. Most of you have probably been pulling it up and tossing it like a weed. I was, too, until recently, when I became aware of its nutritional value. Now I encourage it to grow. I even transplant it into the flowerbed as a ground cover. I like that it does well in dry conditions, like the non-stop heat and no rain we’ve had for weeks now. I am also glad it does not form such a thick mat that the perennials cannot grow through it.

The stems, leaves, and flower buds are all edible. It can be eaten raw, stir fried, or cooked like spinach. It’s good in stews and soups, too.


According to Wikipedia, purslane contains an extraordinary amount of EPA, an Omega-3 fatty acid normally found mostly in fish, some algae, and flax seeds. It also contains vitamins A, C, B, cartenoids, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iron. In addition to all of this, it has two pigments, red and yellow, that are potent antioxidants and have been found to have antimutagenic (anticancer) properties in laboratory studies.

Purslane is tangy if you pick it in the morning, but mellows out more in the afternoon. It’s the malic acid that makes it tangy but this converts to sugar as the day goes by.

As well as great to eat, it also has a deep root system that bring up moisture and nutrients for surrounding plants, and some, including corn, will “follow” purslane roots down through harder soil than they cannot penetrate on their own.

Known as Ma Chi Xian in Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is used to treat infections or bleeding of the genito-urinary tract as well as dysentery. The fresh herb may also be applied topically to relieve sores and insect or snake bites on the skin. (Get that, INSECT bites! Must try that… )

I, myself, am going to start cultivating it. I am going to chop it and freeze like spinach and use it as a ground cover in the ornamental gardens.

Okay, people, with all of this information, how many of you are still going to consider purslane a weed? Let’s save it for the garden!

Sheryl – Runningtrails blogs at Providence Acres Farm.

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  1. Michelle says:

    Just saw some of that in my grandmother’s garden! It managed to grow up from under the planter I have my tomatoes in. I thought it looked neat and have been wondering what it was. Now I’m going to encourage it!

  2. GrannyTrace says:

    Oh my goodness..Just ripped that out sunday. Hunks and hunks of it. I thought it also looked like the mexican rose too. But with no flowers. Thanks for sharing the info.
    Granny Trace


  3. Cathy Jones (catray44) says:

    I have been wondering what that weed was! It does look like Moss Rose, but I knew it wasn’t. So glad to know how useful it is. I will help propagate
    it now, too!

  4. mom2girls says:

    i got a big bunch of purslane in my csa box this past week. last night i took a cup of sour cream, a handful of purslane, ground coriander, garlic, and salt and pepper and whirred the whole thing up. it tasted amazingly like a really good tzaziki sauce (would have been better with greek yogurt but i was out). apparently it is also very good in soups and smoothies. today i’m gonna chop it and freeze in ice cube trays.

  5. lavenderblue says:

    I have a piece of this growing in my garden box on the back porch along with my lettuce. I left it growing ’cause I knew it was edible, just didn’t know exactly how.

    Tzaziki sounds good. I can’t grow good cucumbers, this might be a good substitute.

  6. Robin from Rurification says:

    I have this stuff, too and had heard that it was edible, but never tried it. I like mom2girls’ idea for tzaziki sauce. It’s a good excuse to have gyros. Thanks!!

  7. TeaCup says:

    I”ve been planting purslane for a long time, this year it finally took off! My biggest is budding I may get seed this year! No buying seeds next year (Yay!).

    I add it to salads mostly, and have been intending to try it with the refrigerator pickling brine I was given for my Snow Peas.

    Thanks for this,didn’t know a lot of it!


  8. lisabetholson says:

    Well, at least now I know I can get the seeds to plant or plants. I hope it will grow in Oregon, I have never seen it here that I know of. I love the facts you put into your posts. It has been a LONG time since I had heard of purslane. It must grow in Virginia, I remember my mother talking about it years ago.

  9. Liz Pike says:

    We always mix it with creasy greens, another of those edible “weeds”. Thanks mom2girls for the tzaziki sauce idea!

    Don’t know as I’d want to rely on it for snake bite relief, but it’s worth a try for insects! Thanks Sheryl!

  10. Sheryl - Runningtrails says:

    I have seme growing in a pot now and lots in the flowerbs, since I have quit pulling it out. Mine is flowering. I’ll probably have seeds for sale in my seed store this fall.

    I’m eating purslane in salad today along with a lot of other things from the garden and so called “weeds”.

  11. Launi says:

    Well, doesn’t THAT just make the weeding work a bit easier. We have TONS at our place. In fact, we had some neighbors that use to send their kids out to pick it for salads–which would embarrass the heck out of them. Now we know why! Thanks so much.

  12. jfdavidson says:

    does this plant/weed have a bit of a rubbery feel to it? sort of like sedum? i have it too and have been trying to kill it!!!!!!! did not know all of this and hope it is the same plant. mine just has a little of that feel to it.

  13. Sheryl - Runningtrails says:

    Yes it does. It’s a succulent like sedum. That’s probably it!

  14. Euni Moore says:

    I must be the odd woman out. I have known about the nutritional value of purslane for years but still pull it out every time I see it. You ladies who want seeds you will have them. When the pods ripen they explode and thousands of seeds take to the air, and I think that 99.9% of them germinate! We ate some but as much as we like green leafy vegetables did not care for it. Did not know it “sweetened” later in the day. May give it another try.

  15. Courtney says:

    I couldn’t get rid of purslane in my yard if I wanted to. Encourage it or cultivate it? I have flower beds FULL of it. I believe now I will say I meant to do that! I knew it was edible, and I tried it raw and found it very sour. I believe I will try it later in the day, and maybe try it cooked too. I wonder how long you need to blanch it to freeze it, cause I sure have enough.

  16. squeegee1 says:

    I have not tried it, but I have heard you can pickle the flower buds and use them like capers. Just another amazing fact about purslane. No garden should be without it. It transplants well if you find it growing elsewhere. Just remember, you don’t know what it has been treated with, so don’t eat that particular plant until it reseeds itself in a controlled or organic environment.

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