Purslane, the Foragers Dream

Ok foragers, today we are going to look at a very common, very nutritious plant that can be found all over the world. While most of the time we think of foraging as something that happens when we are out in the bush, this plant is one of the common world wide weeds that can be found in streets and urban areas; so even you city dwellers can get your wild on and grab a free meal. Introducing PURSLANE. Nutritious, delicious, and common – the ultimate for foragers.

Purslane

Basic Info

Scientific Name: Portulaca Oleracea
Common Names: Pigweed, purslane, munyeroo, wakati, verdolaga
Native to: North Afria, India, the Middle East & Australasia.
Distribution: It can now be found word wide and is generally considered a weed. So get eating.

Where to Look for Purslane

Purslane is the 8th most common plant in the world, so there shouldn’t be too much of an issue finding some to sample. First stop would be to look in your front and back garden or lawn where you might find it growing as a weed. If you need to move further afield try the cracks in the pavement, your local park, or even … out in the bush.

Purslane tolerates shade, but does particularly well in full sun. There are some species that are native to outback Australia. That should give you an indication of how much heat this plant can handle. It also doesn’t need much water; translation: this tough cookie can handle the urban environment just fine. Once you know how to spot it, you’ll likely be seeing it everywhere.

If your really not sure if it grows around you, perhaps this map from Discover Life will help.

How to Identify Purslane

So what are you looking for? Purslane is a ground cover (in fact you can plant it in the garden to help stabilize ground moisture) and each plant might grown to about the size of a dinner plate in diameter. The stems radiate out from the center, and its little, smooth oval shaped leaves come off from these. The stems are sometimes red in colour, and flowers are yellow and small with 5 petals.

Here are some images of purslane to give you an idea:

A close up of the leaves, image by Common Sense Homesteading

Botanical Illustartion from Farm Weeds of Canada

Growing out from a central point, image by Eat the Invaders.

Which Part do I Eat?

The stems stems and leaves are edible, as are the seeds.

How to Prepare Purslane

Purslane is edible raw, so just munch right on in. You can also steam it and drizzle with sesame oil, and salt and pepper; add it to your next greek salad, or stir fry. Australian Aboriginals in central Australia also use the seeds to create seed cakes, while it is also recorded as being a traditional chinese medicine. Interesting.

For more recipe ideas, click on the images below.

Purslane salad

Purslane Salad with Fig and Walnuts, by the Naturopathic Gormet

Purslane Recipe

Purslane with Chopped Walnuts and Sumac, by a Seasonal Cook in Turkey

Nutrition Information

Purslane is the plant highest in omega 3 fatty acids so including regularly in your diet is a good idea, particularly if you don’t each much seafood. It also has a good amount of vitamin A, C and E as well as magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron.

Learn More

If you’d like to learn more about edible plants you can join me for my 1 hour bush tucker walk at the Arts Factor in Byron Bay on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, or better still come and do the survival school to get all the skills you need to thrive in the bush.