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Purslane: Has Many Names and Grows All Over the World

Portulaca oleracea

I knew I would be writing about Purslane soon.  Plants and herbs have a way of calling me to them.
I had been researching purslane along with yellow dock, wild lettuce and so on.  But, I knew purslane had its day with me.  Living on the semi-trailer truck…it was the first plant I saw in the morning and when I arrived in the evening…there it was waiting for me when I got there.  To bid me a sweet night.

Purslane has many ties all over the world.

Its Persian name is Khorfeh.  Its North Indian name is Luni-bhaji.  Ghandi is said to have eaten it and he called it Luni.  It is said that Purslane originated in India, although it is a global plant now.  In Hebrew it is known as Regelah which means foot…because purslane grows underfoot and close to the ground. 
(Above information: See economictimes.indiatimes website below)

I had fun finding words for purslane in languages other than English. And, if anyone else knows some I’ll add them here!

هيبرعلا Arabic word for Purslane

This is Purslane in Chinese.
马齿苋
Mǎ chǐ xiàn

Baqli in Turkish

Armenian is koi’korak, later dandur’

mboga ya pwani in Swahili

портулак
or
portulak
purslane in Russian

In Spanish it is known as Verdilacas or Yerba Orate meaning crazy plant because for how it grows out in all directions.

http://blogs.economictimes.indiatimes.com/onmyplate/entry/little-luxuries-purslane-india-s

About the name in English:
http://www.behindthename.com/submit/name/purslane

Purslane probably has as many names as languages and if this is an exaggeration then consider that Purslane grows on every continent except antarctica.  It is an annual which produces a prolific amount of seeds per plant, 240,000 seeds per plant!

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Portulaca oleracea is its scientific name.
It belongs to the family of Portulacaceae.

In English alone, it goes by:  purslane, pussly, pigweed, pusley, hogweed or duckweed and perhaps others I have not heard as yet.  Perhaps affectionate nicknames exist although purslane has also been deemed an annoyance by some.

Purslane was considered a common food in the U.S. until a few generations or so ago. It appears to be making a comeback as it grows almost anywhere and foraging is making a comeback! It is not just being tossed out of people’s gardens, yards, walkways and peripheries as a nuisance but added to the menu as the fresh food for the day!

When eating a purslane salad on a rainy day. Playing scrabble at the kitchen table. The word purslane brings in a score of 10. And if you are a deft player and salad maker purslane brings its rewards!

What Conditions does it Grow in Best?

With 240,000 seeds it can be prolific and hearty. 

Purslane does well in drought conditions.  It likes sunny weather and does not do as well in shade or areas that are too damp.

It’s even been observed that if you pick purslane early in the morning it tastes more lemony and sour that way.

The leaves, stems, blooms and seeds are all edible.

How to Recognize Purslane:

From Green Deane:

“IDENTIFICATION: Smooth, reddish, mostly low-growing stems, alternate spatula leaves clustered at stem joints and ends, yellow flowers, capsule seed pods. Very fleshy. NOT HAIRY. CLEAR SAP. Those are important, not hairy, and clear sap.”
http://www.eattheweeds.com/purslane-omega-3-fatty-weed/

A lot of people say, and I agree that purslane looks like a tiny jade plant.

It has succulent leaves that are fleshy and rounded and which are tear shaped on the ends.

Purslane in flower:

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New growth

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O’kay, for the next 3 pictures, I had to add them to this post!
So, I wouldn’t forage from this trucking shipment lot…
But, I can’t help but admire how purslane will grow right out of the cracks of the concrete!

There it is. Against all odds. It really cheers me up to see the tenacity of this wonderful plant! Maybe purslane will give you encouragement too.
It does for me and it makes me smile.

Purslane, You inspire!

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And it’s flowering too!

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More Description of Purslane:

The leaves are medium green. Sometimes medium light green as above with purslane in flower.

It has a matte grey green color underneath often glistening with moisture sparkles

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Its stems are succulent too and range in color from red to pink to green.  Most of my photos are of the red stemmed kind. But, also smaller stems in other foraged areas showed green and/or green with pink tinge along with red stems.

It grows out of one taproot and then into a rosette shape in all directions. 

*see photos above*

Warning:

Do not confuse Purslane with Spurge.
Here is a picture of POISONOUS SPURGE!
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Photo from anneofgreengardens.com

*Spurge stems are thinner
  Spurge leaves are thinner
***a trick is to break the stem.  If a white milky sap comes out then that is Spurge. And Spurge is Poisonous!

*** so no milky sap means, at least, it’s not Spurge.
***It should be smooth and not hairy on stems or leaves

Always be careful when wild harvesting and go with someone who knows…and/or field guide it, etc.
http://www.pennilessparenting.com/2011/09/foraging-for-purslane.html?m=1

Here is a helpful site and it lists different types of Purslane.
I recommend in this blog, foraging the common purslane that blooms a small yellow, 5 petalled flower.
Check out this helpful site!

http://phoenixsurvival.com/purslane.htm

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What does Purslane taste like?  What do I do with it?

Purslane can be eaten raw, used in soups or stirfried.

It tastes lemony and a bit like cucumber or green beans. I find it quite pleasant tasting.  Or it tastes like a hearty Wood Sorrel.  I find that like wood sorrel it leaves a pleasant taste in your mouth and feels thirst quenching.  See my post about Yellow wood sorrel too!

Purslane tastes great in a salad and can be prepared like any vegetable for stirfrying.  The succulent nature can make it nice for soups.  I would try looking up nopales recipes and combining the two.  Purslane is smaller so would take less cooking time and nopales take special preparations.  See my Homepage re: harvesting and preparing nopales.  Or buy prepared nopales from your market or Mexican market if available.

Also, a nice idea I have read is to rinse your purslane in a bowl. 
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The seeds which are numerous per plant can be let out in a sunny dry area outside or a window box area.  Water a day or two later and every day or so…not overly wet.  Look for sprouts.  Once it grows water every day. 
When it is big enough you can start harvesting or just eat the sprouts and enjoy!

Try sauteeing it with onions, some mint and garlic!

Also, I found this great Khorfeh Salad…
Salade Khorfeh with turmeric and saffron! I am inspired check it out!
http://turmericsaffron.blogspot.com/2011/08/salade-khorfeh-shirazi-style-purslane.html?m=1

Is Purslane good for Me?  Why Should I eat Purslane?
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First of all, Purslane has the Most Omega-3 fatty acids of any plant! And, more Omega-3 than many fish!

It is low in fat and calories.
It is a rich source of vitamin C.
It has prevented scurvy in many parts of the world.
It has many of the B vitamins including:  Riboflavin, Niacin, Piridoxine and carotenoids.
It’s an excellent source of vitamin A
Very high in vitamin E
Contains Folate and
Lithium!
It is 2.5% Protein

Additional Dietary Minerals include:
Iron, Magnesium, Calcium, Potassium, and Maganese! 
Also, Purslane contains 2 types of betalains. 
http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/purslane.html

http://hickeryhollerfarm.blogspot.com/2012/01/accidental-strokes-of-genius.html?m=1 (feed your chickens purslane for nutritious eggs…!)

Betalains are anti-inflammatory and benefit conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.  (Nopales cactus fruit are extremely high in betalains.  See my Homepage on preparations.)

Also, wild harvesting purslane is a good idea for nutritional benefits.  It’s easy to prepare.  And, you can find purslane many places!  Purslane grows abundantly in sunny, dry soil.  And, it is easy to prepare like a salad.  Purslane grows abundantly all over the world!

A word of caution:  if you are prone to kidney stones or other problems with oxalate foods please see a health professional in regard to consuming foods with oxalates.  Purslane contains oxalates as do many vegetables, seeds, grains and fruit.  Not all but many do contain oxalates. 

I am not an expert. Merely a happy enthusiast glad to share what I have learned and discovered!

And Purslane could very well be the missing link in a lot of people’s diets today.  Wild Harvest or Grow your own.  Wild Harvest in areas free of pollutants.

And enjoy your Purslane…by whatever name you call it.  It is a global food.

Here is a poem and art piece inspired by the Persian word for Purslane:  Khorfeh!

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