Purslane

PurslanePurslane — Portulaca oleracea (Common Purslane, also known as Verdolaga, Pigweed, Little Hogweed or Pusley), is an annual succulent in the family Portulacaceae, which can reach 40 cm in height. It is a native of India and the Middle East, but is naturalised elsewhere and in some regions is considered an invasive weed, but there is evidence that the species was in Crawford Lake deposits (Ontario) in 1430-89, suggesting that it reached North America in the pre-columbian era. It has smooth, reddish, mostly prostrate stems and alternate leaves clustered at stem joints and ends. The yellow flowers have five regular parts and are up to 6 mm wide. The flowers first appear in late spring and continue into mid fall. 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 ready. Purslane has a taproot with fibrous secondary roots and is able to tolerate poor, compacted soils and drought.

Although purslane is considered a weed in the United States, it can be eaten as a leaf vegetable. It has a slightly sour and salty taste and is eaten throughout much of Europe and Asia. It can be used fresh as a salad, or cooked like spinach, and because of its mucilaginous quality it is also suitable for soups and stews. Australian Aborigines used to use the seeds to make seedcakes.

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