Purslane is a common weed that grows just about anywhere, from fertile garden soil to between the cracks in the sidewalk. The stems lay flat on the ground as they radiate from a single taproot. Mats of fleshy, succulent leaves look like baby jade plants.
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to kill this weed in my garden. But now, I’m going to throw it on a salad instead.
Karen Stephenson is the owner of a website called ediblewildfood.com. She says purslane is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat.
"I think it’s most noteworthy attribute would be that it has the highest amount of heart-healthy omega-3 fats of any other edible plant, and that includes any cultivated produce as well," says Stephenson. "It was actually the researchers at the University of Texas that discovered that one. It has vitamin-A, it has your B’s, it has vitamin-C, vitamin-E, it has six-times more vitamin-E than spinach. And it has seven-times more beta-carotene that carrots by weight."
The nutrient list also includes melatonin, co-enzyme Q-10, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iron. All that nutrition is packed into plants that are best when they’re harvested young and fresh.
"You can eat the stems, the stems you’ll find are a little reddish," says Stephenson. "The stems and the leaves are both edible, although the leaves I find are the tastiest, the sweeter part of the plant."
It’s best when eaten fresh. Perslane can be cooked, but it will lose some of its nutritional value.
Like all wild edibles, make sure you know what you’re eating. Stephenson says there is a poisonous purslane look-a-like called "hairy-stemmed spurge". One way to tell the difference is to snap the stem. If a milky-white substance comes out, don’t eat it. It’s spurge.
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