It first showed up on our property in a load of garden soil we had brought in. The dirt was meant to fill my raspberry beds, but this strange weed started popping up all over the place in between the young berry canes. At first I was tempted to yank them out, but the leaves were so succulent and unusual I left them to grow, just for the sheer pleasure of looking at the plant.
One day I happened to be flipping through one of my foraging books when I came across a section on Purslane, and I realized the photo in the book looked just like the mystery plant outside. Immediately I went outside to compare the weed with the one I was looking at on paper, and sure enough it was a match! After cross-referencing several more websites it was confirmed: I had Purslane growing in my raised beds!
Why was this so exciting? Well, Purslane just happens to not only be totally edible, but is also super nutritious. It’s a powerhouse of vitamins and antioxidants, but more impressively Purslane has more Omega 3 fatty acids than any other discovered plant on the planet.
The entire plant is edible: leaves, blossoms, seeds, and stems. You can eat it raw, or cooked. The flavor is very mild and fresh, though the stems add a very slight tangy-ness to the bite. The mucilaginous properties in the plant make the texture slimy the more you chew it, though not to the point of being unpleasant.
As a matter of fact, I’m enjoying a bowl of it right now as I type this. Move over multivitamins!
Although I do enjoy munching on it straight out of the garden (where I now fully encourage it to grow), it’s also very good cooked. My favorite way to prepare it is a Mexican dish called Huevos con Verdolagas, or “Eggs with Purslane”. I’ve also dehydrated leaves and smaller stems, and ground it into a powder to thicken soups, stews, and gravies in the place of cornstarch.
If you have Purslane growing on your property, consider it a blessing. It’s one of my absolute favorite wild-growing plants, right up there with Plantain as a must-have, in my opinion. I’ve heard of it selling for as much as $9/lb at farmer’s markets, as more and more people learn of the amazing health benefits of eating Purslane.
This common “weed” is considered an important crop all around the world, and there are many recipes for Purslane to be found online. The next time you discover this hardy and succulent perennial growing in your yard, for Heaven’s sakes don’t pull it out! Cut a few bunches from the tips and enjoy them for lunch. Your body will thank you.
Disclaimer: As always, be sure to do your own research when foraging for wild greens, berries, tubers, etc. And be 100% sure you have properly identified a plant; it can be easy to mistake one for a dangerous look-alike.
Do you have Purslane growing in your yard?
Do you have a favorite way to prepare it?