Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)
The Purslane plant, also known as Verdolaga, Pigweed, Little Hogweed, and Pusley, is one of the most healthy “weeds” you can eat. It grows and spreads close to the ground forming a dense mat and is seldom more than a few centimeters tall. Its smooth reddish stems extends from a central rooting point radiating out like spokes on a bicycle wheel. Purslane leaves are stalkless, fleshy,oval, smooth, shiny, and often tinged with red. It has paddle-shaped alternate (occasionally arranged opposite) leaves, 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) or less long, clustered at the tips of the stems. Its five-petaled flowers are yellow or pink and can appear at any time of the year. Its seeds are tiny (about 1/64 inch) and black and formed in a tiny pod that opens with a lid-like top when the seeds are mature.
Where to Find: It grows in full sun in cultivated fields, field margins, and other weedy areas throughout the world. Considered a nuisance weed by many.
Edible Parts: All parts of the plant are edible – the stems, leaves, seeds, and flower buds are edible. Wash and boil the plants for a tasty vegetable or eat them raw. Eaten as a leaf vegetable, it has a sour, salty, peppery taste. Use the seeds as a flour substitute or eat them raw.
Purslane contains more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plant (including spinach). The extraordinary level of EPA is higher than fish, algae, and flax seeds. It contains vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, as well as magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iron.
When harvested in the early morning, the leaves have ten times the malic acid content as when harvested in the late afternoon, and thus have a significantly more tangy taste.
Other uses: Purslane leaves can be used to treat insect or snake bites on the skin, boils, sores, and bug stings.