Generally, purslane is considered to be a weed in most gardens, but this fast-growing, succulent plant is both edible and delicious and has various health benefits.
Thus, growing this plant in the garden can be advantageous for your health and taste buds.
What is Purslane Plant?
Purslane, scientifically known as Portulaca oleracea, is a plant with an impressive background. Other common names of this plant include garden purslane, little hogweed, pusley, pussly, common purslane, pigweed, and portulaca. It is believed to have originated in North Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent; however, it has since found its way around the world over many centuries.
This plant may reach 16 inches (40 centimeters) in height. It has red stems and fleshy, green leaves. Its leaves may be alternate or opposite and are clustered at stem joints and ends. The flowers are bright yellow in color and have five regular parts. The tiny seeds are formed in a pod, which opens when the seeds mature. This plant has a taproot with fibrous secondary roots and is capable of tolerating poor soil and drought.
Due to its hardy nature and ability to rapidly spread, it has been appreciated by many cultures for thousands of years due to its culinary and medicinal benefits. Thus, it remains common today in various parts of the world.
A Quick Glance to Purslane Plant
|Plant type||Annual herb|
|Native to||North Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent|
|Preferred Hardiness USDA Zones||10-11|
|Soil type||Average to poor|
|Soil pH||5.5 – 7.5|
|Time to maturity||50 days|
|Attracts||Butterflies, birds, bees|
|Planting depths||½ inches|
|Companion planting||Turnip, radish, corn, lettuce, basil, carrots|
|Height||12 – 18 inches|
|Spread||12 – 18 inches|
|Diseases||Black stem rot|
|Pests||Portulaca leaf mining weevil, Purslane blotch mine sawfly|
Features of Purslane Plant
Purslane is an annual succulent that flourishes in USDA growing zones 10–11. It has a number of applications, including its use as an ornamental plant, a leafy vegetable, and herbal medicine. It is a highly resilient species and is able to thrive even in dry and nutrient-poor soils.
It is a plant that grows to a height of 40 centimeters (16 inches), with smooth and reddish prostrate stems. Its leaves are clustered at stem joints and are either alternate or opposite in direction. This hearty plant flourishes even under poor soil conditions and drought, and its small yellow flowers open for a few hours on sunny mornings. The fruits contain many seeds, which can result in up to 193,000 per plant when mature. The ideal germination temperature for the seeds is 25°C or above. They require light contact with soil to sprout properly.
Its growth pattern is quite diverse. Depending on the moisture available, the plant can develop a mat that covers up to 3 feet in diameter or can reach heights of 16 inches tall.
Purslane is an incredibly nutritious herb that is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamins A and C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, and Potassium. It has high levels of antioxidants and possesses anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties.
It also contains high amounts of oxalates. So, consuming it in excess may not be recommended for those with kidney stones. This plant is sometimes used as fodder or as an ointment to treat burns.
Nutrition Facts of Raw Purslane
|Nutrition (Facts) Value of Raw Purslane per 100 gram (6)|
|Energy||20 Kcal (84 KJ)|
|Vitamin A||1320 IU|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)||0.047 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.112 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.48 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.073 mg|
|Vitamin C||21 mg|
|Vitamin E||12.2 mg|
It is also a rich source of Alpha-linolenic acid and Omega-3 fatty acid.
General Cultivars of Purslane Plant
There are many available varieties of the Purslane plant. Among them, some of the most common cultivars are:
Common Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is a hardy plant that is commonly found in home gardens. It typically grows low along the ground and can spread up to 18 inches once mature. Its thick, succulent leaves are edible and make an excellent addition to salads, soups, stews, and stir-fries.
2. Gruner Red
P. Oleracea ‘Gruner Red’ is an easy-to-grow annual plant that features bright green foliage with a subtle pink hue in the stems. Boasting thick oval leaves, this delightful plant can reach heights of up to twelve inches when mature. Plant it in sunny locations for optimal results.
3. Gold Gelber
P. Oleracea ‘Goldgelber’ is a fast-growing plant that requires only 26 days to reach maturity. It has an impressive spread of up to 12 inches wide and stands at about 6 inches tall when fully grown.
‘Golden’ Purslane is a unique cultivar of P.oleracea var.sativa that has tender yellow-green foliage. Perfect for low-maintenance gardening, this cultivar can reach a mature size of up to 10 inches in height.
How to Grow Purslane Plant?
Purslane is a hardy plant that doesn’t require much to thrive, so it is perfect for beginner gardeners.
It needs full sun and a temperature above 70°F in order to grow best. Soil conditions don’t have to be perfect; they will grow in anything from cracks in sidewalks to well-draining, loamy soil.
However, it is worth noting that providing optimal soil conditions – average quality with a pH between 5.5 and 7.5 – will result in larger, juicier plants. Fertilizing is not necessary, but adding some compost when planting may give your plants an extra boost. Lastly, water sparingly – this plant won’t do well with too much moisture, but even consistent watering can help give you a more robust harvest.
The trickiest part of growing Purslane is actually finding the plant first – if you have been trying to get rid of it in your flower beds, chances are it has disappeared. Once you locate the plant, you can either harvest some seeds or cut off a few stems. To best help Purslane thrives, make sure you choose an area with plenty of sunlight and dry soil. If planting from seeds, scatter them over the surface of the soil without covering them up; the seeds need light to germinate. To use cuttings, simply lay them on the ground and give them a good soak with water. The cuttings should take root in the soil in a few days.
Growing Purslane requires minimal effort and maintenance, making it ideal for beginner gardening enthusiasts. Keep these tips in mind to help your own Purslane plants thrive.
How to Keep Purslane Growth Under Control?
Purslane is a hardy plant that can spread rapidly in your garden. Thankfully, there are several effective methods of managing it. For starters, water your plants at ground level rather than overhead to help prevent the growth of fungus.
To keep purslane from taking over your garden, you can trim the plant back to 2 inches above the soil or harvest it entirely before it flowers. Further, you can apply an inch of organic mulch such as wood chips in midsummer to block the sunlight that’s required for the seeds to germinate.
You can also grow this plant in containers, which prevents its spread and also reduces the need for daily watering. With these strategies, you can effectively keep the Purslane under control.
Preservation of Purslane
Purslane is a versatile green plant whose leaves and stems can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator.
It will last a few days longer if you don’t wash purslane first before keeping it in the refrigerator.
If you don’t want to use your Purslane immediately, you can dry its leaves (after plucking them from the stem) by laying them in a single layer on a rack or baking sheet. After that place them in an oven or dehydrator and set them to 135°F until they become brittle. Once dried, this plant can be used as a dried herb in your cooking or blended up to make a powder for soups and smoothies.
What Are The Health Benefits of Purslane?
Eating Purslane is a great way to get important vitamins and minerals. Purslane is high in vitamin A, which helps your eyes remain healthy, supports cell division, and strengthens the immune system. It is also rich in vitamin C, which can keep your collagen and blood vessels healthy and promote healing from injury. All these vitamins and minerals give Purslane the potential to provide numerous health benefits.
1. Purslane Benefits For Bone Health
Consuming Purslane can help support bone health due to its high content of calcium and magnesium. Calcium is essential for maintaining strong bones and avoiding osteoporosis, while magnesium aids in the growth of cells responsible for skeletal well-being. Incorporating this herb into your diet is an effective way of ensuring you get adequate amounts of both minerals to keep your bones healthy.
2. Purslane Benefits For Heart Health
This plant is an excellent choice for promoting cardiovascular health. It is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce the risk of strokes, heart attacks, and other forms of heart disease. Eating purslane regularly is an effective way to support your cardiovascular system.
3. Purslane Benefits For Lower Risk of Cancer
It is a nutrient-rich herb, boasting not only high levels of beta-carotene but also a substantial number of antioxidants. These antioxidants reduce the number of free radicals in your body. Decreases in the number of free radicals can help in reducing the risk of cellular damage, which in turn, lowers your cancer risk.
Not only does Purslane taste great, but it is beneficial for your health too!
Medicinal Uses of Purslane Plant
Purslane has been used medicinally throughout history to treat a wide range of ailments. Studies have found that consuming it may help reduce uterine bleeding, improve serum insulin levels in people with diabetes, improve pulmonary function in those with asthma, and act as an anti-inflammatory when applied topically. Additionally, topical application has been shown to hasten wound healing.
To make use of its benefits for the skin, one option is to steep dried leaves in olive oil for several days to make a slave and then apply it to the skin as required.
How to Cook And Eat Purslane?
It is a versatile herb with many different cooking and eating possibilities. Whether you’re adding it to salads, soups, omelets, or smoothies, purslane can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. To get the most out of this plant, wash each stem carefully since it has little crevices that hold onto dirt.
For a light dish, steam for four to five minutes and serve with salt and butter.
You can also combine it with cucumber and dress it with oil and vinegar. Enjoy the unique taste and crunch of purslane!
Managing Pests and Diseases of Purslane Plant
Purslane is an incredibly resilient plant; it has a naturally strong defense against most pests and diseases. There are, however, some issues that should be kept in mind while caring for it.
Black stem rot is a common problem amongst this type of plant, usually caused by the fungus Dichotomophthora portulacae. Symptoms can include black lesions on the stems and leaves, however, mild cases can often be managed with regular applications of neem oil. If the disease starts to spread, it may be necessary to use a sulfur or copper-based fungicide for effective control. To help reduce the risk of infection, avoid overwatering plants, or if you live in a humid climate, choose varieties that are more resistant to such diseases.
Portulaca Leaf Mining Weevil
Hypurus bertrandi weevils can cause significant damage to your plants if left unchecked. Adults feed on the edges and surface of leaves and stems, while larvae chew tunnels through the leaves of your plants.
Common purslane is the only known host to these insects, however, they can often be found in fruit orchards where common purslane may also be growing as a weed. To control their population, you may use an insecticide like Spinosad, and apply it at night when they are most active. Additionally, encouraging the presence of parasitic wasps such as Diglyphus isaea can help to naturally regulate their numbers.
Purslane Blotch mine Sawfly
Schizocerella pilicornis, commonly known as the purslane blotch mine sawfly, is a pest that can devastate crops. The larvae feed on the leaves of plants, leaving behind black or blotchy marks. To protect your crops from this destructive insect, manually remove any larva or bug you find and apply diatomaceous earth around plants. Squashing the leaves with mining damage will kill the larvae, or you can remove them and dispose of them as an extra precaution. If possible, encourage parasitic wasps to inhabit your garden – they will help keep the population of these pests in check.
How to Take Care of Purslane Plant?
Purslane is an easy-to-care-for annual herb, perfect for any home garden. Its quick growth and hardiness make it a great option for cooks and herbalists alike. To keep purslane healthy and thriving, harvest regularly before the herb develops flowers, and beware that it has a tendency to spread. It is an annual plant and those who are wishing to continue its growth from year to year must save seeds from the current season to have some on hand for next year.
If you want to harvest wild purslane rather than common purslane, then be sure to only harvest purslane that hasn’t been treated with pesticides or herbicides.
1) Common Purslane | Extension | West Virginia University
2) Common Purslane – Weed of the Week |West Virginia University
3) Common Purslane, Portulaca oleracea – Wisconsin Horticulture, Division of Extension
4) Weed Gallery: Common purslane – UC IPM
5) Common Purslane Management Guidelines – UC IPM
6) Purslane, raw – U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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