Is purslane edible? Since this is a common weed, you’ll most likely see it when you’re out foraging. But for beginner foragers, it can easily be mistaken with other weeds.
Well, to take the guesswork out of it, here is everything you need to know.
In this article:
What You Need to Know About Purslane
What Is Purslane?
Purslane is a leafy green plant. It is also known as pusley, pigweed, fat weed, or little hogweed. It has small green leaves, red stems and contains up to 93% of water.
Is Purslane Edible?
Purslane can be eaten cooked or raw like lettuce or spinach in sandwiches, salads, or plain. It has a slightly tangy taste like watercress. However, its favor depends on whether you eat it raw or cooked.
When consumed raw, purslane is juicy and has a crunchy texture. It has a green apple flavor with a salty note to it.
When cooked, on the other hand, pigweed has the same texture as cooked spinach but will make a nutritious substitute for pasta.
Note: Keep in mind that purslane releases a sticky liquid when cooked. You may therefore need multiple water changes when cooking. The pigweed will also lose its green apple flavor when cooked.
Where Can I Find Purslane?
You mostly find purslane in open and sunny areas in your yard, garden, and even roadsides. As a weed, it is not picky about its habitat and will sprout on disturbed soil, gravel, sidewalk crack, and other natural places.
However, be keen about where you get your purslane when foraging to avoid ingesting toxins that can be found on sidewalks or roadsides.
How Can I Identify Purslane?
Identifying Purslane doesn’t require any special skill as these weeds are rather obvious to point out. Here are some straightforward identifiers:
- Height: Pigweed mostly grows low and along the ground, roughly under three inches. However, it will occasionally form clusters that can grow up to six inches tall. When in doubt, ensure that all the plant’s branches come together at the same spot since purslane grows from a single taproot.
- Color: The leaves of the fat weed are bright green while the stems are red. In cases where the stems are green, they will still have a distinguishable red tinge to them.
- Plant Type: Pigweed is a succulent plant. Its leaves and stalk are thick and fleshy. While the leaves are not as fleshy as those of decorative succulents, they are thicker than most weeds. Similarly, purslane leaves have smooth edges while the stems are also smooth and hairless, unlike most weeds.
- Leave Type: Purslane leaves grow in an alternating style on the stem but may appear whorled or opposite when crowded. Consequently, the leaves have a spatula shape, with their broadest point being just above the middle. The flowers, on the other hand, are small and yellow in color. The flowers grow alone or in clusters and have four to six petals and between two and four sepals. The plant also has seeds that grow in urn-shaped pods.
- Presence of Latex: A sticky white liquid does not ooze when you break the stem of a purslane plant. Instead, little hogweed stems ooze a sticky but clear liquid when broken.
Note: Since other weeds may have unnoticeably small amounts of latex that dries fast, ensure you identify with all the other pointers too.
Are There Other Weeds That Look Like Purslane?
Yes. Spurges are sprawling weeds that have a reddish coloring like purslane. However, their distinguishing characteristics are:
- Lack of fleshy leaves and stems. No variety has leaves as thick as those of purslane.
- Leaves grow in pairs and parallel to each other along the stem.
- Though hard to notice, spurges’ leaves have serrated edges.
- Spurges have sparsely to densely haired stems and leaves
- When broken, spurges ooze a white and sticky liquid
Does Purslane Have Any Nutritional Value?
Compared to other leafy vegetables, pigweed has a substantial amount of omega-3 fatty acids, not to mention its high iron and protein concentration. As far as vitamins and minerals go, fat weed has more magnesium, vitamin A and E than kale.
Watch this video as Go Green presents on the many nutrition and health benefits of purslane:
There you have it, preppers. Even as a weed, purslane packs more nutrients than most cultivated leafy greens, making it worth a forage. Be keen to identify it correctly, and your body will be thankful you did.
Do you more valuable information on purslane? Let us know in the comment section below!
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