A succulent, sprawling plant of lawns and meadows; flowers inconspicuous, 1/5 inch wide, five yellow petals tucked between the branches, fruit capsules up to 1/4 inch long, filled with tiny, round, black seeds; leaves paddle-shaped, succulent, stalkless 1/2 to 2 inches long, alternate or opposite; stem reddish, succulent, branching, creeping, 4-10 inches long. It is native to india and was a food crop centuries ago.
Purslane is one of my favorite summer vegetables, with a mild, sweet-sour flavor and a chewy texture. Its reddish stem, nearly as thick as a computer cable, creeps along the ground, rarely getting taller than a pint of milk. The stalkless leaves are paddle shaped, about as long as a small paper clip. Blooming in the summer, the 5-petaled, tiny yellow flowers hide between the base of the leaf and the stem. The tiny black seeds are hardly larger than grains of salt. If you look very carefully at the end of summer, you may be able to find them pouring out of tiny capsules smaller than a filling in a tooth.
How to grow
Sow the tiny seed directly on the soil. Keep the soil moist for germination. Temperature should be around 23-27 degree Celsius. Germination will be within a week. Thin the seedlings to 10cm apart and when they reach 5-7cm in height cut them back close to the ground.
April to August
Purslane is known as an excellent source of vitamins A, C and E and the essential amino acids. Reports describe Purslane as a “power food of the future” because of its high nutritive and antioxidant properties. Purslane leaves contain Omega-3 fatty acid which regulate the body’s metabolic activities. Purslane herb is known to have one of the highest known concentrations of Omega-3 fatty acid in any plant. .
Purslane is eaten extensively in soups and salads throughout the Mediterranean area, where the incidence of heart disease is low. The Russians dry and can it for the winter. In Mexico it is called VERDOLAGA and is a favorite comfort food, eaten in an omelet or as a side dish, rolled in tortillas, or dropped by handfuls into soups and stews
The exciting new health discovery is purslane's high content of alpha linolenic acid, a type of the omega-3 fatty acids. It may affect human health directly, but the most intriguing possibility is that the human body might be able to convert into other, related kinds of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) found in fish oils. Researchers see evidence that these substances lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as make the blood less likely to form clots. But ages before this scientific finding, purslane was eaten as treatment for arthritis, inflammation and heart disease and to promote general good health.