Wild! Edible! Lovely to look at! Easy to grow!
And a super food?!

 The wildest variety is Portulaca Oleracea and is, in my opinion, a superfood!
Purslane has been considered a weed with a will to live by American gardeners and farmers for quite some time now. (First identified in Massachusetts in 1672) The funny thing is it has been a popular edible in Europe since the Middle Ages and is widely cultivated AND ENJOYED in many countries. It seems like our culture is starting to love purslane though… and this wild little weed is showing up in famer’s markets across the country! My husband and I bought a bunch of purslane at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market earlier this spring for $5! That is a fetching price for a “weed.”

...growing between some annual vincas.
I can see why someone would think of it as a weed. Any person tending to a crop they planted may feel frustrated by keeping this sprawling plant out of their well manicured beds.  Especially if they don’t realize the value of it! It can be a helpful companion plant in your flower beds acting as a living mulch. And, yes! All parts of this plant are edible. I’ll talk more about its amazing nutrition later!

But, first! Why is it such a “Fertile Turtle”?

Here are the stats: A single plant can produce up to 240,000 seeds! These seeds are tiny, and they can be viable in the soil anywhere from 5-40 years!  Since I know the value of this plant, I open the seed pods and sprinkle them all over the surrounding soil. Sometimes I sprinkle the seeds alongside walking paths hoping a rainstorm will nudge them to take hold of the dry, bare ground. They are very similar to a succulent plant and therefore are very drought tolerant. I love encouraging self sustaining drought tolerant edibles to grow!

I did a little research on the health value of purslane and I am happy to report it is packed with a slew of vitamins and minerals. But, I am most pleased to report that "purslane contains more OMEGA-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plant." I also learned it has an extremely high amount of EPA. (eicosapentaenoic acid: you can get this by eating oily fish, fish oils or algae. By the way, algae is the food source that give fish their EPA) Anyway, the amount of EPA purslane has is deemed "extraordinary" for being a land based source. And finally, when you look at the red (stems) and yellow (flowers), you are witnessing a source of betalain alkaloid pigments. These pigments are gonna make you smile, because that means you are eating some potent antioxidants! (and have been shown to be antimutagenic in studies)

When is it best to harvest purslane?

Early in the morning is the best if you like it to have a tangy flavor. It has 10 times more malic acid in morning than later in the day because the purslane converts the malic acid in to glucose. (Malic Acid is the source of the sour flavor in apples. It is also useful in softening gallstones and certain protocols for doing a liver flush includes consuming lots of apple juice before the cleanse.)

As for me, I pick it whenever I see it in an area I know is safe from chemicals! Its great on its own, in salads, on wraps, or sprinkled as a garnish in warm (or chilled) soups!

ENJOY! ~Erin