I have a new favourite herb/plant, one which I again have growing at my place. It’s called a weed by some, a valuable and useful (and tasty) herb/food by others. Purslane or Portulaca oleracea is its scientific name, is a plant that grows in many parts of the world. It is an annual plant, that arrives in Spring. It is a low growing plant, with succulent, tear shaped leaves, and a small yellow flower. The stems of the plant can be reddish in colour.
It can grow in quite poor soil, not needing a lot of water. Because it has few ‘rich’ needs to grow, it can pop up all over the garden, in cracks in pavements, and almost anywhere else. Because of this, it is disposed of by many people, in favour of more attractive and showy plants. But when you learn of the medical benefits of this plant, you won’t be inclined to dispose of it, if it shows up, you will welcome it instead, as I do.
Purslane has vitamins A, B, C, and E, as well as Omega 3 fatty acids. In fact this inconspicuous little plant has more Omega 3 fatty acids than any other plant. It therefore is an invaluable source of it for people who don’t eat any fish, which is a common source of this nutrient. It is also an antioxidant, and has the minerals, magnesium, iron, calcium and potassium. With all of these good things, it really should be welcomed instead of shunned if it shows up in your garden!
The small plants in the photograph are the ones that suddenly popped up unexpectedly in that container, where I had actually been trying to grow some that I found in the pavement in my closest town, in winter this year. I was unsuccessful at growing that particular plant, but I am confident I will have more luck with these two. Because, as I have now learnt, the plant is an annual, I had been trying to grow it at the very end of its growth period. Now that I’m growing it at the optimal time, I am looking forward to a burst in growth!
This plant has many culinary uses. It can be eaten raw, or cooked, and can find a place in many different cooking methods, and meal courses. The leaves, flower buds, and stems are both edible, and apparently the Pliny the Elder, advised the plant be worn as an amulet ‘to expel all evil’. It is also said that purslane was Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite food, and he recommended it to others as a good food to eat.
I am hoping I can have plentiful amounts of this plant growing in my garden very soon, and I also recommend it to others as a good food to eat. If anyone else has knowledge of this plant I would love to hear of it!