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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Purslane, The Wonder Plant

When I posted yesterday about my wretched gardening summer, in which I had no food crops, I forgot to mention a very important one.  I can make no claims to planting this or tending it - I have no credit whatsoever for its thriving in an empty planter where a lot of things died during the winter.  This crop is considered a noxious weed by people who have velvety lawns, and the internet is full of advice on how to remove it from your lawn or garden.  But purslane (Portulaca oleracea), the crop in question, is anything but noxious.  It is, in fact, one of the most nutritious of green plants.  My niece Jessica was the first to inform me of this plant's virtues, when it showed up in our lawn in North Truro.  Jess is a wild-forager, and very knowledgeable about herbs and edible wild plants.

Purslane (also called by older names: Verdolaga, Pigweed, Little Hogweed or Pusley), is native to India and Persia, has a lengthy history, grows all over the planet, and is eaten as just what it is, a leafy green vegetable, in most other cultures.  We have such a plentiful crop of it this year that we are eating it daily in salads, where its sour/salty taste adds flavor to the other greens. It is full of vitamins (notably A and C) and minerals (just about all of 'em), and more omega-3 fatty acids than fish oils. It is such a valuable food that last night Gail jokingly said "maybe all we should eat this summer is purslane!"  And maybe she's right; it's both free and ultra-nutritious.  But what about dark chocolate?  Maybe dessert after the purslane?  Anyway, while researching the plant for this post, I found links to tons of recipes using it, mostly for salads, but it's also recommended for stirfries.  When the weather gets cool enough to use our stove again, I will certainly throw it into my first stirfry dish.  Here are some good links for recipes and general info on purslane for your eating pleasure:

http://www.prairielandcsa.org/recipes/purslane.html

http://www.culinarymusings.com/2008/06/purslane-not-a-weed-but-a-wonder/

http://www.prodigalgardens.info/purslane%20recipes.htm

  If you have a yard or a garden, you have purslane., I promise.  You may have been weeding it out, but today's the time to start improving your health with a healthy serving of little hogweed.  Here's a photo from my planter to help you recognize it.  The purple flower is not part of the purlane plant, but a sprig of Russian sage that is flopping over onto it.  It forms a spreading mat of succulent leaves on thick round stems (all of it is edible), has small yellow flowers, grows anywhere and everywhere it can find enough sun.  It thrives even in our drought, and, as you can see, has eternally endeared itself to me this year.

3 comments:

Lisa :-] said...

The Universe provides, even when we don't know what we're looking at! I'll have to give this stuff a try.

sunflowerkat321 said...

It looks familiar so I'm going to have to go out looking for it. Me being me...we have all kinds of weeds in our yard.
:)

Jessica said...

This makes me smile! Lucky you to have an abundance of this good stuff in your yard. Wild food is the very best food!