David Trammel's picture


- Common name, followed by Scientific Name, then (any) Alternative Names: (text) .

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- Can Be Confused With: Purslane can be confused with a similar plant called Portulaca. The difference is in their leaf shape. Purslane has a broad oval kind of leaf, Portulaca has a spikey pointed leaf. Both are eatable I believe.

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David Trammel's picture


Taxonomy: Plant, of the family Portulaca oleracea

General Information: Considered a weed here in the United States, due to the vigor that it self seeds, Purslane is considered a valued food in most of Europe and the Far East. It comes in a variety of colors, including yellow, white, red and blue.

Purslane is a "succulent", which means it stores water in its stems and roots when water is abundant. Its a very juicy plant when eaten.

It can be eaten raw or cooked and depending on when it is picked has a slightly sour and salty taste. It is best harvested in the early morning due to the way it photosynthesis, the leaves have a much tangy taste when you do. Leaves, stems and even the flowers are eatable.

Purslane has the most omega-3 fatty acids of all leafy plants, along with a host of vitamins and dietary minerals. It is though high in oxalate when raw, which has been found to contribute to kidney stones. Cooking reduces this.

It grows from a common root, and puts out long stems with oval round leaves, the end of that produce a half dozen pods which then bloom and go to seed. Seeds are fine and almost like grit, the pods will fall of when ripe and then grow.

This plant is often confused with its cousin Portalaca. You can tell the difference easily, Portalaca has longer more pointed leaves, while Purlanes are broad and oval.

Purslane creates blooms all season and is especially helpful because of this to feed pollinators and bees. Its blossoms are broad, wide and accessible for insects both small and large.


You don't grow Purslane, you just get out of its way and let it spread.

Considered an annual in North America, this is inaccurate. Like many tropical plants it dies when exposed to a hard frost. Taken inside it will continue to grow year round. In fact you will have to trim it back often least it outgrows its container.

Purslane is one of those plants, that you don't need a full on container. Simply growing it as a sprout in a large jar of water will supply you with a added ingredient for soups, salads and meals.

Medical (Herbal Lore): 

Teas made with its leaves are said to help ease headaches, bring down a fever, soothe sore throats, and combat inflammation.

Sweet Tatorman's picture

Adherents to the religion that is "Organic Gardening" should quit reading here and move on.

Apparently there is considerable variability in the appearance of purslane. The type abundant in my garden is more prostrate in character and does not have red stems. Left unchecked, it would cover every square foot of my garden by mid-Summer. I do plenty of hand weeding and hoeing but I also find a place in my gardening "tool kit" for glyphosate, a.k.a., Roundup. As with any intentional introduction of a potentially toxic substance to the environment I believe in using just enough to accomplish the objective and no more. Purslane is highly sensitive to glyphosate and will be the first of the weeds to show a response. At an application rate that may require several weeks for some weed species to show a response, purslane will respond within a few days [assuming fairly high daytime temps]. This enables the possibility of a fairly sparing application initially and using the response of the purslane to indicate areas that require touch up.

FWIW, about a decade ago I purchased some purslane seed of the cultivated variety. It produced a very erect plant reaching 18" or so. I enjoyed it both fresh and cooked. The local bugs also very much enjoyed it despite the wild variety never suffering from bugs. The bug pressure reduced the availability for harvest to only a month or so.

And enjoyed it with romaine, lambs quarters and dandelion. I think it's fitting to eat the weeds instead of just killing them. They also help fill up the composter to also feed the soil.

My patch recovered quite well from the hoeing my husband gave it.

I don't usually use roundup on anything in the veggie gardens, just on the horrible stuff like bindweed.

Yesterday my local Kroger store was offering organic dandelion greens!

I think we have gone mainstream, I don't know if I like being lumped in with the gentry

If you're harvesting, be careful not to confuse purslane with spurge. They often grow near each other, but spurge is poisonous.

Here are some links explaining the difference:

Purslane and Its Imposter

Avoid Poisonous Spurge

Purslane or Spurge

This is what I understand to be spurge, which often grows in the same bed as what I think is purslane.

I had a spot I dug up but never got planted. I was pleased this week to find it filling up with volunteer purslane--but now I think it's volunteer spurge--maybe both. I will put on my big girl gloves and examine it more closely. I think they fall into three categories: maybe purslane, definitely not purslane, and You're Mocking Me, Aren't You?