This summer, I’ve discovered a plant that most consider a weed, called purslane (AKA hogsweed, fatweed, pursley) . And it is magical. Why? It grows in all the US states, Mexico, and in all provinces of Canada — all over the world, really. It can grow in gardens, in cracks in bricks and sidewalk, and in much more acidic and dry environment than most plants. You can eat purslane raw or cooked. It contains the densest nutrients and antioxidants compared to other plants its size. The most magical thing of all: it’s growing in a surplus in my backyard. And neighbor’s yard. And all over my neighborhood! Y’all. Y’ALL. I am jubilant.
Purslane is a succulent with red/green hollow stems with green leaves. It looks similar to other succulents I keep in a southern window in my house, but I didn’t notice them because I thought they were harmful and trying to crowd out my fruit and veggie plants/trees. (Eeek. How many pounds of purslane have I pulled from my garden that I could have eaten? I don’t want to think about it.) It enjoys a long history in folk medicine for good reason.
Nutrients: According to the National Library of Medicine, purslane plants “contain an abundance of fatty acids, amino acids, organic acids, vitamins, and minerals, which can reduce the risk of many chronic diseases”. In the Healthline article, ‘Purslane – A Tasty “Weed” That is Loaded With Nutrients’ the author states a 3.5 oz serving contains:
- Vitamin A (from beta-carotene): 26% of the DV.
- Vitamin C: 35% of the DV.
- Magnesium: 17% of the DV.
- Manganese: 15% of the DV.
- Potassium: 14% of the DV.
- Iron: 11% of the DV.
- Calcium: 7% of the RDI.
- It also contains small amounts of vitamins B1, B2, B3, folate, copper and phosphorus.
- Two types of omega 3 fatty acids
(These surpass spinach’s amount of omega 3 fatty acids)
Indigenous cultures use it as a muscle relaxant, anti-inflammatory, and a diuretic treatment. Since I found it, I’ve used it in salads, soups, on sandwiches, in pasta salad, and in roasted vegetables. It’s a juicy bite that tastes salty and a bit sour with a texture similar-ish to spinach. However, like spinach, purslane contains oxalates that help form kidney stones. I read somewhere that eating anything with oxalates and then eating Greek yogurt may defuse its harmful properties. So this, just like most other things, should be consumed in moderation if you don’t want to eat too much salt or if you have kidney issues. You also want to watch out for any pesticides that might have been used on it as those are harmful and even lethal to humans. They even have small yellow flowers that bloom in mid to late summer. You can juuust spot the yellow bloom unfolding in the photo above.
Have you tried purslane? I’d love to know why or why not!