Approximately forty cultivars are currently grown.
It has an extensive distribution, assumed to be mostly anthropogenic, extending from North Africa and Southern Europe through the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent to Malesia and Australasia. The species status in the Americas is uncertain. In general, it is often considered an exotic weed, but there is evidence that the species was in Crawford Lake deposits (Ontario) in 1350–1539, suggesting that it reached North America in the pre-Columbian era. Scientists suggested that the plant was already eaten by native Americans, who spread its seeds. How it reached the Americas is currently unknown.
It has smooth, reddish, mostly prostrate stems and the leaves, which may be alternate or opposite, are clustered at stem joints and ends. The yellow flowers have five regular parts and are up to 6 mm (0.24 in) wide. Depending upon rainfall, the flowers appear at any time during the year. The flowers open singly at the center of the leaf cluster for only a few hours on sunny mornings. Seeds are formed in a tiny pod, which opens when the seeds are mature. Purslane has a taproot with fibrous secondary roots and is able to tolerate poor compacted soils and drought.
Widely used in East Mediterranean countries, archaeobotanical finds are common at many prehistoric sites. In historic contexts, seeds have been retrieved from a protogeometric layer in Kastanas, as well as from the Samian Heraion dating to seventh century BC. In the fourth century BC, Theophrastus names purslane, andrákhne (ἀνδράχνη), as one of the several summer pot herbs that must be sown in April (Enquiry into Plants 7.1.2). As Portulaca it figures in the long list of comestibles enjoyed by the Milanese given by Bonvesin de la Riva in his "Marvels of Milan" (1288).
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||84 kJ (20 kcal)|
|Vitamin A||1320 IU|
|†Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults. |
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Purslane may be eaten as a leaf vegetable. William Cobbett noted that it was "eaten by Frenchmen and pigs when they can get nothing else. Both use it in salad, that is to say, raw". It has a slightly sour and salty taste and is eaten throughout much of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Mexico. The stems, leaves and flower buds are all edible. Purslane may be used fresh as a salad, stir-fried, or cooked as spinach is, and because of its mucilaginous quality it also is suitable for soups and stews. The sour taste is due to oxalic and malic acid, the latter of which is produced through the crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) pathway that is seen in many xerophytes (plants living in dry conditions), and is at its highest when the plant is harvested in the early morning.
Australian Aborigines use the seeds of purslane to make seedcakes. Greeks, who call it andrákla (αντράκλα) or glistrída (γλιστρίδα), use the leaves and the stems with feta cheese, tomato, onion, garlic, oregano, and olive oil. They add it in salads, boil it, or add it to casseroled chicken. In Turkey, besides being used in salads and in baked pastries, it is cooked as a vegetable similar to spinach, or is mixed with yogurt to form a Tzatziki variant.
As a companion plant, purslane provides ground cover to create a humid microclimate for nearby plants, stabilising ground moisture. Its deep roots bring up moisture and nutrients that those plants can use, and some, including corn, will follow purslane roots down through harder soil that they cannot penetrate on their own.
Raw purslane is 93% water, 3% carbohydrates, 2% protein, and contains negligible fat (table). In a 100 gram reference amount, purslane supplies 20 calories, and rich amounts (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of vitamin E (81% DV) and vitamin C (25% DV), with moderate content (11-19% DV) of several dietary minerals (table).
In popular culture
- Purslane also finds mention in a translation of the Bible as a repulsive food. Job's question in Job 6:6 is translated in the Revised Standard Version as, "Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt or is there any taste in the slime of the purslane?" whereas the King James Version translates this verse as "Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt? Or is there any taste in the white of an egg?"
- The name verdolaga, associated with the plant that grows in South America, is a nickname for football clubs with green-white schemes in their uniforms, such as Colombia's Atletico Nacional and Argentina's Ferrocarril Oeste.
- Purslane is mentioned in the short story "Transcendental Wild Oats" by Louisa May Alcott: "The garden was planted with a generous supply of useful roots and herbs; but, as manure was not allowed to profane the virgin soil, few of these vegetable treasures ever came up. Purslanes reigned supreme, and the disappointed planters ate it philosophically..."
- "Portulaca oleracea". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 16 December 2018.
- Marlena Spieler (July 5, 2006). "Something Tasty? Just Look Down". The New York Times.
- "Portulaca oleracea (common purslane)". Go Botany. New England Wildflower Society.
- Byrne, R. & McAndrews, J.H. (1975). "Pre-Columbian puslane (Portulaca oleracea L.) in the New World" (PDF). Nature. 253 (5494): 726–727. doi:10.1038/253726a0. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
- Hilty, John (2016). "Common Purslane (Portulaca oleracea". Illinois Wildflowers. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
- Megaloudi Fragiska (2005). "Wild and Cultivated Vegetables, Herbs and Spices in Greek Antiquity". Environmental Archaeology. 10 (1): 73–82. doi:10.1179/146141005790083858.
- Noted by John Dickie, Delizia! The Epic History of Italians and Their Food (New York, 2008), p. 37.
- Wright, Clifford A. (2012). "Purslane". Mediterranean Vegetables: A Cook's Compendium of All the Vegetables from the World's Healthiest Cuisine, with More Than 200 Recipes. Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Common Press. pp. 276–277. ISBN 978-1-55832-775-7.
- Cobbett, William (1980). The English Gardener. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 126. ISBN 0192812920.
- Pests in Landscapes and Gardens: Common Purslane. Pest Notes University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Publication 7461. October 2003
- Harold McGee. On Food and Cooking. Scribner. 2004 edition. ISBN 978-0684800011
- "Semizotlu Cacık – Hilal'in Mutfağı". Nefis Yemek Tarifleri (in Turkish). 2016-05-28. Retrieved 2017-08-07.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Portulaca oleracea.|
|Wikispecies has information related to Portulaca oleracea|
- Online Field guide to Common Saltmarsh Plants of Queensland
- Portulaca oleracea in West African plants – A Photo Guide.
- Purslane Recipes, Prairieland Community Supported Agriculture