If your garden is anything like mine, you probably have more than a few examples of this little weedy visitor. Purslane (Portulaca oleracea; also known as pigweed, wild portulaca, etc) seems to grow particularly well in the hot, dry Australian climate. But don’t be too hasty in eradicating it. It’s actually edible & is a very beneficial edible at that.
Purslane is very high in Omega 3 fatty acids. Yep – the same stuff people keep raving on about when they say fish is good for you. Purslane has the highest concentration of Omega 3 of any plant-based material. But it doesn’t stop there. It provides six times more Vit E than spinach and seven times more beta carotene than carrots. It has one of the highest levels of Vit A found in any green leafy vege & one of the highest magnesium levels…it also contains Vit C, B-group vitamins, iron, riboflavin, potassium and phosphorus. It is an excellent anitoxidant and also contains dopamine.
So what’s the best way to tuck in to this little nutritional powerhouse? The leaves, stems & seeds are all edible. It can be eaten raw in salads, steamed (use as a spinach substitute), juiced, added to stews & curries (it is mucilaginous, so is particularly beneficial in stews). Aboriginals used the seeds to make a paste. It goes well with egg dishes (incl quiche), can be pickled & is good as a tea. One source even suggests popping a few leaves under the tongue to relieve thirst. It does contain oxalic acid, however, so it’s best not to go eating armfuls of it all at once. If you find it a bit too tangy, try harvesting it in the afternoon when it’s malic acid content (created at night) is lower.
Purslane has a myriad of medicinal uses. I won’t go into all of them here but there’s a wealth of info on the net. I note that it’s high magnesium content would make it good for migraines but it’s useful for far more than just that (Google will help you out if you want to read up).
I’ve been pulling it out but I won’t be doing that from now on. Eating it is the best form of eradication…but I may even keep a patch going for edible use – after all, it grows in abundance in the garden, so I might as well make use of it!