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Wild Edible Wednesday

Welcome back to Wild Edible Wednesdays!

This week we are identifying another very common plant, found throughout the U.S., and typically growing in...sidewalk cracks! (If you want to know why this plant is so "invasive", see the blog from Oct 4th for my thoughts on manna.) This plant is also considered a super food because it contains Omega-3 fatty acids, both the kind found in plants and trace amounts of the kinds found in fish! (One of the only known plants with this type of Omega-3) These acids aid in promoting proper liver function, and help prevent heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and depression. So what is this amazing crack filler?


Scientific name: (Portulaca Oleracea)

Purslane stems are smooth and red or pink in color. The leaves are deep green and grow in groups at the stem joints and ends. Small yellow flowers grow in tiny clusters in late summer, and only open for a few hours on sunny mornings.

Purslane is high in many nutrients. A 3.5 oz portion contains (5Trusted Source):

  • Vitamin A (from beta-carotene): 26% of the DV.

  • Vitamin C: 35% of the DV.

  • Magnesium: 17% of the DV.

  • Manganese: 15% of the DV.

  • Potassium: 14% of the DV.

  • Iron: 11% of the DV.

  • Calcium: 7% of the RDI.

  • It also contains small amounts of vitamins B1, B2, B3, folate, copper and phosphorus.

You get all of these nutrients with only 16 calories! This makes it one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, calorie for calorie. It can be eaten raw or cooked, is about 93% water (succulent), and has a slightly sour/salty taste similar to watercress or spinach. I personally like to pop a few in my stir fry mixture, and have used them often in green smoothies.

So let's talk about some other amazing benefits of this little plant.

  1. It's a great cover plant. If you are looking for something prolific, that can weather both heat and cold, in a variety of soil conditions, this little plant is for you. Each leaf can actually create a new plant, just like all other succulents. So where it spreads, it gets thicker and produces more tasty leaves.

  2. It is VERY easy to find and reseed. I have it coming up in every flower pot I filled this year. I can only assume it was in the soil, and knowing what I know about this plant, I just let it grow! It looks rather pretty surrounding larger bushy plants like marigolds or lavender; similar to creeping jenny. If you snip a few leaves off, and place them in moist potting soil, within a few days they will root and new plants will grow.

  1. Not only does it contain all the vitamins and minerals listed above, it is loaded with antioxidants including glutathione, melatonin, and betalain.

  2. The seeds and seed extract are effective at improving insulin levels with long term daily use, and can significantly lower blood sugar. (Does not have a traceable effect on hypoglycemia since it is more of a pancreatic stabilizer). They can also be ground and added to flour for an immune boost.

  3. The leaves have a high pectin content, so act as a natural thickener when added to soups and stews.

  4. They can be pickled!

Like most other beneficial plants, tinctures are recommended for long term storage, viability, and medicinal use. Use only 80% or higher drinking alcohol content. (I am trying both 90 proof vodka and 190 proof everclear. I'll let you know how it goes) One excellent tip I learned: If mixed 2-1 Purslane tincture with a Mullein tincture, and added to 1/4 cup water, it is an INSTANT asthma reliever. (This cure was originally found in ancient Iranian medical books).

Lastly, did you notice the scientific name? Portacula...

No, you cannot substitute "moss roses" aka portacula grandiflora, for purslane. Although it is the closest cousin, and the trailing leaves are a remarkable lookalike, because it is a modified version of the original, the benefits have been greatly diminished. Enjoy looking at the pretty flowers, do not eat the leaves.

That's it for this week's blog. Thanks for learning along side me about wild edibles and how they benefit health and cure so many maladies. Each week I will add another "weed", and you have my absolute permission to print these out and use the info at will. If you share it, or copy and paste, please give me credit somewhere.

With that, I wish you all blessings and good health.

Happy farming!

Credits: GoodHealth article by Hrefna Palsdottir; The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies by Nicole Apelian, Ph.D and Clause Davis, Healthy and Natural World by Jenny Hills

All health recommendations in this blog are taken from books, medical journals, or articles. Please do not begin a new medical treatment without asking your doctor.


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