A farmer friend and I were having a discussion about weeds in fields and he astounded me by telling me about a bunch of foragers who regularly visit his farm to glean the “weed” purslane. He uses natural growing principles but is not certified as an organic farmer.
Purslane is an annual plant originating from India and the Middle East. The plant has been grown for use as a salad green, medicine and potherb for centuries. It has, of course, naturalized in North America and has become a somewhat pesky weed in lawns and fields. The plant is a succulent that looks like a flat Jade plant. A close relative of Purslane is the ornamental Rose Moss. (Portulaca grandaflora).
Purslane is another powerhouse food that produces Omega-3 fatty acid and is the only known plant to do so (think fish oil). It can be added to salads, casseroles, egg dishes and used in similar fashion as spinach, which it resembles in flavor. Used medicinally there are no known side effects, just all those vitamins and minerals.
Purslane can be grown from seed that is a vegetable cultivar or you can look for a plant in the wild and collect seed from it. The seed germinates between 60 to 90 degrees revealing its tropical origins. Once established, the seed will remain viable 30-40 years in the germ bank.
The nutrition chart below is a testament to its importance a s a food source. It is an ironic situation that the purslane is found most readily in cultivated fields where it is a hated “weed” and that farmers spend time, money trying to eradicate a weed that is more nutritious than the crop that they are trying to protect.
Purslane (Portulaca oleracea), raw, fresh, Nutritive value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.1 g||0.5%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.036 mg||1%|
|Vitamin A||1320 IU||44%|
|Vitamin C||21 mg||35%|
Caron Wenzel is the owner of Blazing Star Inc. a native plant seed nursery and environmental consulting and education business. You can visit the website at Blazing-Star.com.