Suppression

Purslane

Category: Food

Type

Voluntary

Introduction and description

 

Portulaca oleracea is a succulent in the family Portulacaceae. A common plant in parts of India, purslane is known as sanhti, punarva, or kulfa.   It is known as Ma Chi Xian  in traditional Chinese medicine and indeed medicinally it is a very useful plant.  It is also very nutritious, as such it is the ideal plant - a healing food.

It has been used medicinally and as a pot herb for several thousand years and archaeobotanical finds are common at many prehistoric sites. Seeds have been retrieved from the Samian Heraion dating to seventh century BC and in the fourth century BC, Theophrastus named purslane, andrákhne (ἀνδράχνη), as one of the several summer pot herbs that must be sown in April.  In antiquity, its healing properties were thought so reliable that Pliny the Elder advised wearing the plant as an amulet to expel all evil (Natural History 20.120)!

A Potential source of confusion

Winter purslane

Purslane is a common name for several plants with edible leaves.  Within the Portulacaceae family of succulent flowering plants, Portulaca oleracea, is the specific plant covered in this section - a species of Portulaca eaten as a vegetable and known as summer purslane.  There is also an edible plant Claytonia perfoliata, which is known as Miner's lettuce or winter purslane. 

There are other plants called Purslane with different properties.  The table below from Plants for a Future show all the other ‘Purslanes’ there appear to be.  The one in bold is the plant described in this section.

Latin Name

Common Name

Family

Synonyms

Claytonia sibirica

Pink Purslane, Siberian springbeauty

Portulacaceae

Claytonia alsinoides. C. sibirica.

Halimione portulacoides

Sea Purslane

Chenopodiaceae

Atriplex portulacoides. Obione portulacoides.

Ludwigia palustris

Water Purslane, Marsh seedbox

Onagraceae

 

Lythrum portula

Water Purslane, Spatulaleaf loosestrife

Lythraceae

Peplis portula.

Portulaca oleracea

Green Purslane, Little hogweed

Portulacaceae

 

Portulaca oleracea sativa

Golden Purslane

Portulacaceae

P. sativa.

Sesuvium portulacastrum

Sea Purslane, Shoreline seapurslane

Aizoaceae

nomenclatural synonym:(Portulacaceae) Portulaca portulacastrum

Veronica peregrina

Necklace Weed, Neckweed, Hairy purslane speedwell

Scrophulariaceae

 

Description


 
purslane, bacon, eggs, fava beans, pea shoots, sausage & smoked salt

Portulaca oleracea sativa is an annual growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.3 m (1ft).  It has smooth, reddish, mostly prostrate stems and alternate leaves clustered at stem joints and ends.

The yellow flowers have five regular parts and are up to 6 millimetres (0.24 in) wide. The flowers open singly at the centre of the leaf cluster for only a few hours on sunny mornings.  Worldwide, depending upon rainfall, the flowers can appear at anytime during the year, but in the UK, it is in flower from Jun to July, and the seeds ripen from Jul to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by insects.

Seeds are formed in a tiny pod, which opens when the seeds are mature. Purslane has a taproot with fibrous secondary roots and is able to tolerate poor, compacted soils and drought.

Distribution


 

Purslane is found all over the world, throughout the Old World extending from North Africa through the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent to Malesia and Australasia. The species status in the New World is uncertain: in general, it is considered an exotic weed, however, there is evidence that the species was in Crawford Lake deposits (Ontario) in 1430-89 AD, suggesting that it reached North America in the pre-Columbian era. It is naturalised elsewhere, and in some regions is considered an introduced weed.

Cultivation

purslane, sweet red onion and corn salad, with optional chopped egg

Portulaca oleracea sativa can be grown in both light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. It cannot grow in the shade.  A perennial plant in warmer climates than Britain, purslane is killed by frost, but can be grown as a half-hardy annual in temperate countries. It can become an aggressive weed in areas where the climate suits it.

It prefers moist but well-drained soil.  Plants will not produce good quality leaves when growing in dry conditions.

Outdoor sowings in situ take place from late spring to late summer, successional sowings being made every two to three weeks if a constant supply of the leaves is required.  Plants take about six to eight weeks to produce a crop from seed and can then be harvested on a cut and come again principle

As a companion plant, purslane provides ground cover to create a humid microclimate for nearby plants, stabilising ground moisture. Its deep roots bring up moisture and nutrients that those plants can use, and some, including corn, will follow purslane roots down through harder soil that they cannot penetrate on their own (ecological facilitation). It is known as a ‘beneficial weed’ in places that do not already grow it as a crop in its own right.

 

Method

purslane and tomato salad

When you harvest purslane has an effect on its taste and properties.  At night its leaves trap carbon dioxide, which is converted into malic acid (the souring principle of apples), and, in the day, the malic acid is converted into glucose. When harvested in the early morning, the leaves have ten times the malic acid content as when harvested in the late afternoon, and thus have a significantly more tangy taste.

The stems, leaves and flower buds are all edible. Purslane may be used fresh as a salad, stir-fried, or cooked as spinach is, and because of its mucilaginous quality it also is suitable for soups and stews.

Purslane and tomato salad

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

A good handful of purslane

2tbs slivered almonds

2 tbs red wine vinegar

4 tbs much olive oil

Smoked salt and pepper

 

Gently toast the almonds in a dry pan over a medium heat until light brown.

Wash the purslane well and strip off the leaves and tips (about the top inch or so).
Mix together with the tomatoes and [cooled] almonds.

Whisk together the vinegar and olive oil with smoked salt and pepper.
Toss salad gently in dressing.

 
 
 

 Australian Aborigines use the seeds to make seedcakes. In many other cooler countries, the plant does not produce enough seed to make this feasible, but in Australia the plants grow quite large and can produce 10, 000 seeds per plant, a person can harvest several pounds of seed in a day. 

The Greeks call it andrakla (αντράκλα) or glystrida (γλυστρίδα), and use the leaves and the stems with feta cheese, tomato, onion, garlic, oregano, and olive oil, add it in salads, boil it, or add to casseroled chicken.

In Turkey, besides being used in salads and in baked pastries, it is cooked as a vegetable similar to spinach.

In Albania, known as burdullak, it is also used as a vegetable similar to spinach, mostly simmered and served in olive oil dressing, or mixed with other ingredients as a filling for dough layers of byrek.

 

In the south of Portugal (Alentejo), baldroegas are used as a soup ingredient.

 In Pakistan, it is known as qulfa and cooked in stews along with lentils like spinach or in a mixed green stew.

Nutrients

Purslane is an exceptionally nutritious plant.  The table from the USDA showing the nutrients in an American plant.  But the paper below also adds an extra perspective

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea L.) is an important plant naturally found as a weed in field crops and lawns. Purslane is widely distributed around the globe and is popular as a potherb in many areas of Europe, Asia, and the Mediterranean region. This plant possesses mucilaginous substances which are of medicinal importance. It is a rich source of potassium (494 mg/100 g) followed by magnesium (68 mg/100 g) and calcium (65 mg/100 g) and possesses the potential to be used as vegetable source of omega-3 fatty acid. It is very good source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and gamma-linolenic acid (LNA, 18 : 3 w3) (4 mg/g fresh weight) of any green leafy vegetable. It contained the highest amount (22.2 mg and 130 mg per 100 g of fresh and dry weight, resp.) of alpha-tocopherol and ascorbic acid (26.6 mg and 506 mg per 100 g of fresh and dry weight, resp.). The oxalate content of purslane leaves was reported as 671-869 mg/100 g fresh weight. The antioxidant content and nutritional value of purslane are important for human consumption. It revealed tremendous nutritional potential and has indicated the potential use of this herb for the future.  PMID:  24683365

 

 

USDA Full Report (All Nutrients):  11427, Purslane, raw

Food Group: Vegetables and Vegetable Products

Scientific Name:  Portulaca oleracea


Nutrient

Unit

Value per 100g

Water 1

g

92.86

Energy

kcal

20

Energy

kJ

84

Protein 1

g

2.03

Total lipid (fat) 1

g

0.36

Ash 1

g

1.36

Carbohydrate, by difference

g

3.39

MINERALS

 

 

Calcium, Ca

mg

65

Iron, Fe

mg

1.99

Magnesium, Mg

mg

68

Phosphorus, P

mg

44

Potassium, K

mg

494

Sodium, Na

mg

45

Zinc, Zn

mg

0.17

Copper, Cu

mg

0.113

Manganese, Mn

mg

0.303

Selenium, Se

µg

0.9

VITAMINS

 

 

Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid

mg

21.0

Thiamin

mg

0.047

Riboflavin

mg

0.112

Niacin

mg

0.480

Pantothenic acid

mg

0.036

Vitamin B-6

mg

0.073

Folate, total

µg

12

Folic acid

µg

0

Folate, food

µg

12

Folate, DFE

µg

12

Choline, total

mg

12.8

Vitamin B-12

µg

0.00

Retinol

µg

0

Vitamin A, IU

IU

1320

Vitamin D (D2 + D3)

µg

0.0

Vitamin D

IU

0

FATTY ACIDS

 

 

Fatty acids, total trans

g

0.000

OTHER

 

 

Apigenin 2

mg

0.00

Luteolin 2

mg

0.00

Isorhamnetin 3

mg

2.79

Kaempferol 2 3

mg

0.66

Myricetin 2

mg

0.00

Quercetin 2 3

mg

0.77


Sources of Data

1Nutrient Data Laboratory, ARS, USDA National Food and Nutrient Analysis Program Wave 10j , 2006  Beltsville MD  
2Hertog, M. G. L., Hollman, P. C. H., and Katan, M. B.  Content of potentially anticarcinogenic flavonoids of 28 vegetables and fruits commonly consumed in The Netherlands. , 1992 J. Agric. Food Chem. 40   pp.2379-2383
3Huang, Z., Wang, B., Eaves, D. H., Shikany, J. M., and Pace, R. D. Phenolic compound profile of selected vegetables frequently consumed by African Americans in the southeast United States. , 2007 Food Chemistry 103   pp.1395-1402

References and further reading

  • ScientificWorldJournal. 2014 Feb 10;2014:951019. doi: 10.1155/2014/951019. eCollection 2014.  Purslane weed (Portulaca oleracea): a prospective plant source of nutrition, omega-3 fatty acid, and antioxidant attributes.  Uddin MK1, Juraimi AS1, Hossain MS1, Nahar MA2, Ali ME3, Rahman MM4.
    1Institute of Tropical Agriculture, University Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Malaysia. 
    2Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh 2202, Bangladesh.
    3Malaysia Nanotechnology and Catalysis Research Center, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
    4Bangabadhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University, Gazipur 1706, Bangladesh.
  • Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China
  • Reid. B. E. - Famine Foods of the Chiu-Huang Pen-ts'ao. - A translation of an ancient Chinese book on edible wild foods.
  • Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.

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