Monday, September 14, 2009

Purslane: Noxious Weed or Superfood?

Some years ago I was flipping through my new book on gardening and found an odd vegetable that I had never heard of called purslane. Oddly enough, it looked just like the noxious weed that was completely taking over my parents' garden. So I grabbed a sprig and took it to the nearest garden center where they confirmed that yes, indeed, it was purslane.

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is a fleshy succulent, preferring to grow in hot, dry weather. It has a low growth habit and produces thousands of tiny seeds all summer long, giving it its reputation as a noxious weed. It can be hard to eradicate from your garden. However, it is also a prime edible, with a crunchy texture and wonderful flavor. While the flavor is sort of generically "green," some of them, usually the bigger leaves, have a distinct lemon flavor. In addition, they are one of the highest known vegetative sources of omega-3 fatty acids. It is also full of vitamins and minerals. Its dietary benefits are enough that some have gone so far as to call it a superfood.

So where can you get some seeds from this wonderful plant? I have yet to see any offered at seed catalogs, but it is pretty easy to score a little seed factory in many areas. Purslane uses its fleshy stems, which are also edible, as a water and nutrient storage device. After you have pulled the weed, it will continue to produce flowers and manufacture seeds as long as it can. I pulled one particularly healthy plant a few months ago. It was still producing flowers after a month of sitting in the sun. In Arizona. In July. So find the biggest plant you can find and pluck it. Then put it wherever you want the plants to take over. It will likely produce hundreds of seeds before it perishes. Unless the javelinas eat it first .

Now go eat your weeds.


  1. Howdy, Ed!

    You're the one who first told me that the stupid weed in my tomatoes was edible. And it is! The other day, I mentioned purslane to my mom, and she said, "you should be careful to eat it if you have kidney stones." (Wow, what a fact to know!) I've seen some corroborating evidence of this, such as at .

    It also apparently affects uterine contractions. Dunno if this is important for anyone, but it may bear investigation!

    Cool site. I just heard of it today!

  2. Thanks for the info, Alan. I had not heard that.

  3. Alan, look at that site again: what it says is that if you have kidney stones, you should be cautious about eating purslane, because it contains high levels of oxylates, which have been implicated in the formation of kidney stones.