Portulaca oleracea L.
Portulaca neglecta Mack. & Bush
Portulaca oleracea L. ssp. granulatostellulata (Poelln.) Danin & Baker
Portulaca oleracea L. ssp. impolita Danin & Baker
Portulaca oleracea L. ssp. nicaraguensis Danin & Baker
Portulaca oleracea L. ssp. nitida Danin & Baker
Portulaca oleracea L. ssp. papillatostellulata Danin & Baker
Portulaca oleracea L. ssp. stellata Danin & Baker
Portulaca retusa Engelm.
Common Purslane, Pussley, Pursley, Pressley, Wild Portulaca, Little Hogweed
Common purslane is a native of North Africa through the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent to Malesia and Australesia. It is now a widespread weed in North America. About 40 varieties of this species are cultivated for food. Depending upon your point of view, purslane is an aggressive weed (one of the ten worst in the world by some standards); an amazing plant that can prosper in almost any climate; a great ingredient for salads, soups, or stir fries; or a medicine and health food.
Identification: Plants have green or red stems and are low-growing, mostly prostrate, spreading in a circular growth pattern up to 24" (60 cm). Leaves are succulent—thick, fleshy, and storing water—a trait usually found only in arid climate plants. They are ⅜-1¼" (9.5-31 mm) long, alternate (occasionally opposite) and sessile or very short-stemmed, roughly oval but thicker on the end away from the stem (oblanceolate to obovate). Flowers are pale or deep yellow, with 5 notched petals, ⅛" (4 mm) across, appearing July to September.
Edibility: Leaves and stems may be added raw to salads. Like okra, they contain a think gel-like substance and may be used to thicken soups or stews. Leaves are described by different sources as sour, salty and spicy, lemon-like, or mushroom-like. Seeds, which have fairly high fat and protein content and are high in iron, are ground into a powder and mixed with cereals.
Medical: Like many common plants, purslane has a long history of medical applications. Purslane is said to be antibacterial, antiscorbutic, depurative, diuretic and febrifuge. Leaves are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, higher than any other leafy green vegetable. Omega-3s are presently believed to have beneficial effects for the immune system, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and even a range of psychological disorders. Plant juices are applied to the skin to aid in the treatment of skin irritations, diseases, or insect stings; they have also been used to treat coughs. Many other uses are known; see Plants for a Future for additional details.
Portulaca oleracea on missouriplants.com
Portulaca oleracea at Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers and the Plants of the Sonoran Desert
Portulaca oleracea on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants
Portulaca oleracea at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Portulaca oleracea at 2bnTheWild.com
Portulaca oleracea on eFloras
Portulaca oleracea description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 28 Oct 2013.