Species: Portulaca oleracea
Conditions: Full sun, well draining soil. Warm weather. Clear ground.
Calendar for Hardiness 6B
November – May
Cooking: Drop in stews from frozen. Very nutritious (Vitamins, calcium, Omega-3, iron).
June – September
Cooking: Leaves and tender stems raw in salads, pickled, to stir fry, or add to stews.
Start: It usually appears as a volunteer; it requires little care, just light watering and frequent harvesting. If not present in the garden, many seed companies carry cultivated varieties. Spread seed and lightly cover with a sprinkle of loose soil. Water regularly until sprouts appear.
Care: Keep moist.
Harvest: Pick leaves and tender stems frequently, or pull whole plant. Eat promptly or blanch and freeze.
Care: Continue watering. Allow a few plants to bloom, for self-seeding.
Cooking: Last batches or from frozen.
Gardening: When temperatures start to drop, pull remaining plants if developing mold, otherwise, no action required until spring.
As with any other foraging, be 100% certain on identification before consuming. There is another weed called spurge that looks similar to purslane but is toxic. Two ways to differentiate are:
Shape of leaves – Purslane leaves look like paddles, while spurge has oval-shaped leaves:
Fluid when stems are sliced – Purslane secretes clear liquid when sliced (left photo), whereas spurge has milky sap (right):
When in doubt, do not consume. Purchase a packet of seeds and sow, to be completely safe.
Contains soluble calcium oxalates – Consuming extremely large quantities is not recommended, just like with beet greens and spinach, because the excess calcium oxalates may cause kidney stones. There is also mention of purslane not recommended for pregnant or nursing women, and being particularly toxic to dogs, cats and horses.