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Purslane or Ulasiman (Portulaca Olearacea) An Edible Weed

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Precy loves to write about many topics, including how to grow some of the most wonderful plants in the world.

Portulaca olearacea.

Portulaca olearacea.

Should I Grow Purslane or Weed it?

Portulaca olearacea known as common purslane isn't known by many as a leafy vegetable. Purslane isn't something that will grow on its own in your garden but being a little observant on your next walk at the park, you'll probably spot some purslane growing. Purslane even grows on places you less expect. It can tolerate heat and is a perfect drought tolerant, even growing alongside roads and wastelands. Even places like the cracks in your driveway is a perfect spot for a purslane to grow.

Unaware of purslane as an edible and nutritious weed, you'll probably weed it as an unwanted garden guest. But knowing that it is, start purslane through seeds once and you'll have seedlings every year growing. Probably more than what's you've asked for as it grows everywhere. Even invading spaces growing alongside other plants. If you're considering growing purslane in your own garden, continue reading and decide for yourself if it's something you want to add in your garden for consumption. I have included photos of purslane from our own container garden to feast your eyes on.

Common Names for Purslane

Purslane may have originated in North Africa as a desert succulent plant but some say it could have been native to India or Pakistan where purslane has been consumed for thousand of years. Known as kulfa and lunibhaji in India and khurfa in Pakistan, purslane is now widely cultivated. There are other common names purslane is known for. It is known as pigweed, wild portulaca, some call it little hogweed and the buttocks of the chief's wife in Malawi.

In Mexico, the name for this annual succulent is verdolaga and is sold in bundles in Mexican stores here in the US during summer season. While in the Philippines, portulaca olearacea took the name of ulasiman and ngalog. There are other names to add so here they are in the table below.

Other names for purslane/portulaca olearacea.

Name

Pursley

Ulasiman

Riyla

glistrida

Ma chi xian

Portulak

Karikkirai

Phjac bia

Porcelana

Kholza

Verdolagas

Farfaheen

Gelber Portulak

Description - A Closer Look at the Leaves, Stems, Seedlings, Flowers and Seeds

Purslane has green, flat to succulent, smooth leaves that are small and obovate in shape, about half an inch in size. The succulent stems ranges from reddish to light brown or green in color. Either it lays flat on the ground while speading in the wild or it grows upright when cultivated with stems reaching up to 16 inches in height.

Young stems are green and grow either alternate or opposite often with a single leaf where the nodes are. As the stem continously grow and mature, the color changes from green to reddish starting at the base of the stem. The flat to succulent leaves grow opposite and whorled at the tip consisting of 4 to 5 leaves.

Purslane Seeds on Amazon

Flowers and Seeds

Capsules of seeds appear at the tip of the stem where the whorled leaves are, easy to get confused as developing leaves with their green leaf-like appearance. These often comes in four to five egg-shape like capsule with pointy tips as they mature with colors ranging from pure green to tinged with red.

Small yellow flowers emerged that last only for few hours while young white seeds continues to mature underneath the capsule.

A stem with a flower about to open and seed capsules tinged with red.

A stem with a flower about to open and seed capsules tinged with red.

Tiny black seeds are enclosed in an egg-shape capsule where the top part cracks open once the seeds mature. Click thumbnails below to view other photos.

Consumption

Purslane isn't only consumed in Europe but it is eaten as well as a leafy vegetable in countries such as India, Australia, Mexico, Vietnam and the Philippines where purslane is known as ulasiman or olasiman. If you're up to trying something new with your dish, include purslane. It makes a good substitute for spinach and is packed with antioxidants and high in omega-3 fatty acids. Here are few dishes with ulasiman or purslane that sure will tempt you to try for yourself.

- Purslane is a leafy veggie used in some Filipino dishes such as sinigang, pinakbet and nilaga.

- Makes a healthier omelette together with tomatoes.

- Can be included in salad, and in fact purslane is an ingredient in the Lebanese bread salad 'fattoush.'

- Makes a good susbtitute for spinach.

- In the Philippines, purslane or ulasiman is blanch and seasoned with one's preference of fermented fish sauce.

- Add purslane in your taco with avocado and tomato relish just like this recipe I found 'Purslane and Avocado Tacos with Pico de Gallo'

Filipino dish with kabocha squash, okra, spleen amaranth and ulasiman or purslane.

Filipino dish with kabocha squash, okra, spleen amaranth and ulasiman or purslane.

Natural Healing with Purslane

From being a fodder and eventually making its way into culinary and a wonderful source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B1, C and A and minerals, its no surprise that purslane is also considered when it comes to natural healing. Grown not only for consumption but for medicinal uses as well, purslane is used as a medicinal herb.

In the Philippines, poultice made from leaves and stems is used to treat swelling.

Leaves are crushed and the juice is used for cough in India.

Purslane is also used in treating burns.

It promotes good blood circulation and prevents clotting of the arteries.

Growing Purslane

Purslane isn't picky when it comes to soil condition. It grows either on poor and fertile soil. Sow purslane seeds in a location where it gets enough sunlight during spring season. Water if needed.

Once you've introduced purslane in your area, it will reseed every year, everywhere. Starting mine through seeds few years ago, purslane or ngalog as we call it never fails to reproduce every year when the weather warms up. It grows in containers where other leafy vegetables wouldn't do much, even in our hanging baskets.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.