Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is a humble groundcover that is full of goodness
As Summer gets underway, Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) or ‘Pigweed’ as it is also known, is growing just about everywhere, with no help at all from us. Its spreading habit and thick leaves and succulent, red/brown stems make Purslane easy to identify as it pops out from foot paths, sidewalks and gardens.
Purslane is a highly nutritious plant with high levesl of Omega- 3 fatty acid, ALA (alpha linoleic acid), potassium, calcium, magnesium and carotene.
Purslane has been used as a salad vegetable around the world and does well as a green veggie in other dishes. It also makes for an interesting ferment – that’s a good way to use up the thicker stalks. Just cover them in lightly salted water for three to five days until bubbles start to form, then leave until it suits your taste.
Beside eating it as a vegetable, local Aboriginal folk use it as a binding agent when making cakes of Acacia seed flour. Its mucilagenous nature makes it an excellent binding agent at a time when water is scarce. I was listening to Neville Bonney speak about just that the other day.
A Purslane plant has thousands and thousands of seeds.I cheat a bit when I grow Purslane. Even though one plant can produce around 250, 000 seeds (you can eat them too!), it’s much easier to find a wild one, dig it up and transplant it into your garden. A little water for a day or so and away you go!
Purslane has some other great uses for the homesteader or permaculturalist beside food for ourselves. It is much loved by pigs (hence one of its nicknames) and chickens. They go crazy for it and it does good things for them, giving the yolks a brighter yellow colour.
Nutritious, tasty and free, demanding no attention and giving so much – what more can we ask?