I’m always fascinated by the fact that nature provides exactly what we need, like root vegetables in the fall to get us through winter, and leafy greens in the spring for clearing out winter’s toxicity. Last year and again this year, a plant that most of us treat as a weed has been finding its way into our garden and in fact, it’s taking up just about every free inch of exposed soil. If you’re not familiar with purslane, it’s a low-growing, succulent-like plant with small, tender leaves that shoot off of thin stems. There are so many reasons to take this plant seriously:
- It’s edible and is a great source vitamins A, C, and E (as alpha-tocopherol) and other antioxidants as well as magnesium and potassium.
- It has a mild, spinach-like, slightly lemony taste that goes perfect in salads, wraps, or stir fries.
- It’s high in plant-based omega-3 fats and contains the longer chain, marine-based fatty acid, EPA.
- Unlike my poor kale that’s getting chomped on by something (maybe birds or bunnies?), animals and bugs seem to ignore it. That means no spraying necessary.
- It’s probably already growing in your yard. As long as you’re not treating the lawn with herbicides or pesticides, it’s safe to pick and eat.
For the last few weeks, I’ve been adding a bunch to my salads; stems and all, as an alternative source of leafy greens and sometimes I’ll even munch on it by hand as a snack!
If purslane is something you’d like to try but don’t have it growing near you, seeds are available from a number of companies. And the plants themselves generate lots of seeds that you can save – or eat.