Purslane, also known as duckweed, fatweed, pursley, pussley, verdolagas and wild portulaca while considered a weed in the United States, can be a good source of vitamins and minerals. Purslane has fleshy succulent leaves and stems with small yellow flowers. They look like small jade plants. The stems lay flat on the ground and radiate from a single taproot forming flat, circular mats up to 16 inches across. The stems are often reddish at the base.
Purslane grows from the late spring to the start of fall. Its succulent characteristic makes it very drought tolerant. It grows wild across large parts of the United States. Purslane grows well in part to full sun and clear ground. They are not picky about soil type or nutrition. But, Purslane grows best in drier soil.
Purslane is consumed as a food in large parts of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Mexico. The stems, leaves and flower buds are all edible. Purslane can be eaten raw or boiled. Raw, it has a refreshingly sour slightly salty taste. If you’d like to remove the sour taste, boil the stems and leaves before eating them. Purslane can be eaten fresh as a salad, stir-fried, or cooked like spinach. In Australia the Aborigines use the seeds to make seedcakes which are made by crushing seeds into a dough after which it is baked.
In Greece where it is called andrakla, they fry the leaves and the stems with feta cheese, tomato, onion, garlic, oregano, and olive oil, add it in salads and boil it or add to casseroled chicken.
Purslane contains more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plant. Studies have found that Purslane has 0.01 mg/g of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). This is an huge amount of EPA for a land-based vegetable source. EPA is an Omega-3 fatty acid found mostly in fish, some algae, and flax seeds. It also contains vitamin A, vitamin C, Vitamin E and some vitamin B and carotenoids. It also contains minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iron.
It is an easy plant to grow. If you cut the new tips off the stems, they will regrow, so a small number of plants can provide you with quite a bit of food. As with any wild plant be sure of the identity of the plant before ingesting them, some wild plants can be poisonous.