herbaceous weed cultivated for centuries as a food source.
Archaeologists have unearthed seeds and pollen from settlements
dating back thousands of years. Native to India and Persia,
fast growing easily transported seeds were brought to this, and
other countries, by immigrants as an easy to cultivate food source.
I went to visit a friend one
beautiful summer afternoon. As we sat on his deck overlooking his
huge garden, drinking a cold beer he told me of the awful morning he
had spent pulling weeds. He promptly asked me to follow him to his
garden, where he proceeded to show me two large lawn waste recycling
bags full of in his words, "those damned weeds". I looked in the bag
and could not stop the smile from splitting my face. I asked
him why he plants a garden. He looked at me like I was an idiot. I
asked him to humor me, and answer my question. He said "for
vegetables to eat". The "you idiot" part of his answer was implied.
I said do you like to eat salad? Again he looked at me like I had
lost my marbles, but simply said "yes", humoring me much the way you
would a child. I said he had just spent the day pulling what is
arguable the best salad green he will ever eat. He just looked at me
like I had lost my mind. I continued without waiting for his
response. This bag appears to be full of Purslane. He said it is,
as a matter of fact the other bag is full of it as well. I reached
in and grabbed a handful of the succulent plant, put it in my mouth,
chewed it up, and swallowed it. He could not take it any longer;
"are you nuts?" "Yes but that is beside the point" I answered.
"Purslane is grown across the world as a food crop, and it has
centuries." It is not native to the North America, but was rather
brought here by immigrants as an easy to grow highly nutritious food
source. It was not until the early 20th century that it fell from
our diet, and was relegated to the status of obnoxious weed. At my
insistence, he warily gave it a try. "Hey this is pretty good. It
has a really mild flavor." I found out a while later that he then
had his wife research Purslane on the internet. He called me to say
I was right. That even his sister-in-law knew about Purslane.
There are many plants like
this which have fallen from culinary and or apothecary grace. It is
our job to restore them to their rightful glory. Follow the links
below to find more information about using plants.
A creeping herbaceous plant, rarely exceeding 4" in height. This
plant grows in large doily looking mats. It can quickly grow to
take over a tilled or bare area. The succulent deep green leaves
are lobe or tear drop shaped, and grow along reddish brown fleshy
Sunny soils of cultivated and waste
areas. Lawn edges, and cracks in concrete and bricks. It loves to
grow in a beautifully weeded garden.
Wild Food Use:
If you are a gardener you are no doubt aware
of the speed with which Purslane will take over freshly
cultivated soil. Rather than pulling and throwing away this
"weed", make use of this natural bounty, and make it the base of
all of your salads. This is
by far the best wild growing salad green I know of. Purslane has
a very pleasant mild flavor. It is slightly lemony, and being a
succulent, it has a very high water content, making it very
refreshing on a hot summer day. I love nothing more than to make
this the base of all of my summer salads. My favorite salad by far
is a base of Purslane, chicory, dandelion, and wild lettuce. To
which I add wood sorrel, white sweet clover, sliced Queen Anne's
Lace roots, Black Nightshade berries (Solanum nigrum), and
diced apple. I then dress it with my homemade cherry vinaigrette.
I guarantee if you try this salad you will fall in love with wild
edibles. Portulaca oleracea is very high in Vitamins A and
C as well as the complex Bs; It also contains numerous beneficial
minerals, and omega-3fatty acid, which are fantastic for your
Contact Living Afield