While many of us regard it as a common useless weed, purslane is actually more useful than you can ever imagine.
This weed is loaded with essential vitamins and antioxidants, vital for your overall well-being.
Likewise, it contains iron and calcium, which are extremely important for the bones.
It is also very effective when it comes to boosting the immune system.
Additionally, purslane is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, GMO-free, and contains the highest amount of vitamin A compared to other green leafy vegetables, and it can safeguard you from cancer.
While the primary focus used to be how to get rid of this weed, that is about to change.
Its crunchy leaves, with pleasant lemony taste, can be excellent to include in your recipes.
In fact, you can use it as a spinach substitute. It also works well with sandwiches and salads.
It will also give you strength, thanks to its high protein content.
This weed can effectively safeguard you from heart diseases and stroke.
Moreover, it minimizes the chance of ADHD in children, autism, among other developmental disorders.
A Nutrient-Rich Weed
Purslane may be a common plant, but it is uncommonly good for you. It tops the list of plants high in vitamin E and an essential omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Purslane provides six times more vitamin E than spinach and seven times more beta carotene than carrots. It’s also rich in vitamin C, magnesium, riboflavin, potassium and phosphorus.
Omega-3s are a class of polyunsaturated essential fatty acids. Your body cannot manufacture essential fatty acids, so you must get them from food. Unfortunately, the typical American diet contains too few omega-3s, a shortage that is linked to a barrage of illnesses including heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
ALA is most commonly found in plants and grass-fed meat and eggs. Artemis Simopoulos, co-author of The Omega Diet, says purslane is one of the richest known plant sources of ALA: It contains 15 times the amount found in most iceberg lettuce.
In addition to ALA, other omega-3s include eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acids mostly found in aquatic plants and animals, especially oily fish. Nutritionists now think all forms of omega-3s need to be plentiful in our diets p lants such as purslane may be part of the missing link to better nutrition. Ethnobiologists — scientists who study the relation between primitive human societies and the plants in their environment — believe that the plants humans ate long ago provided a greater proportion of nutrients than the plants we consume today. They estimate, for instance, that humans 40,000 to 10,000 years ago consumed an average of 390 milligrams per day of vitamin C from wild plants and fruits. In contrast, the average American today consumes just 88 milligrams of vitamin C per day. One cup of cooked purslane has 25 milligrams (20 percent of the recommended daily intake) of vitamin C.
Purslane is an annual that thrives in rich soil and prefers recently turned soils. Its leaves are smooth, thick and paddle-shaped. Depending on the variety, the leaves may grow from one-half to 2 inches long. Wild purslane grows horizontally and forms flat, circular mats up to 16 inches across. Its round, thick stems radiate from the plant’s center and are often reddish at the base. About mid-July, purslane develops tiny, yellow flowers about a quarter of an inch across that usually open only in full sunlight.
After a week or so, the yellow flowers give way to small, dark, pointed seed capsules that, when mature, break open and release an abundance of tiny, black seeds, each about the size of a grain of sand. Under ideal conditions, a single purslane plant can produce up to 200,000 seeds!
If you do not find purslane growing wild, many companies listed at right sell seeds for golden purslane (Portulaca sativa) or garden purslane (Portulaca oleracea). These varieties grow upright rather than horizontal and have larger leaves than wild purslane. They also are more tender and easier to harvest and clean.
Because it is susceptible to frost, purslane does not emerge until the soil is quite warm. In most U.S. climates, it can be sown starting in May. Plant the seeds in shallow trenches 4 to 6 inches apart, then cover them lightly with about a quarter inch of soil. Keep the planted seeds moist until all the plants have sprouted. After the plants are about 1 inch tall, they won’t need much attention. Plants will be ready for harvesting in four to six weeks.