Dear PoPville – Any Fellow Fans of Purslane?

Dear PoPville,

One of the weeds now thriving in DC lawns – and gutters, cracks in sidewalks and vacant lots – is a tasty and incredibly nutritious plant called purslane. I once ripped this plant out and discarded it before I realized that it was edible. If you’re curious about it, I suggest finding some in your neighborhood and not eating it! Who knows how many dogs have marked it? Instead, pick some and cultivate it in a pot or a sunny spot in your yard. You can find it in the store now and then, but I find that the wild stuff is much tastier.

Purslane has more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy plant. It also has vitamins A, B and C and and many other vitamins and minerals. I find it to be delicious raw or cooked.

Be sure to identify purslane carefully before you eat it. It tends to grow around other plants, some of which look a bit like it such as a toxic plant called spurge. One key to identifying spurge is to crack open one of the stems. If a milky substance comes out of it, it’s spurge. Apparently it also tastes horrible so you’ll know if you’ve made a mistake and you’re not likely to eat much of it.

Purslane grows in the most forelorn places. The leaves are green and somewhat thick and the stem is reddish, particularly on larger plants. There are many helpful resources on the web for identifying it. The good news is that it’s all over the place, so you shouldn’t have a hard time finding it.

Any other fans of purslane?

15th and Columbia Rd, NW

19 Comment

  • my dog loves to piss on purslane.

  • claire

    Had a salad from Big Bear’s new dinner menu with purslane in it – was really tasty and I was wondering about this green! Thanks for the info! I took an urban foraging tour last year, and it was super interesting, although the only things I remember are sorrel (lemony taste, looks similar to clover) and poor man’s pepper. Wish I lived somewhere I could make better use of the info though – it’s best not to eat plants growing next to busy roads (yucky fumes) and I hadn’t even contemplated the animal pee possibility… but how can you even guarantee that a wild animal hasn’t peed in your garden anyway? Suppose that’s why it’s always best to wash fresh food!

    • I bought both purslane and sorrel last week at Eastern Market. Sooo delicious.

    • I think the best strategy for home-grown purslane is to snag some growing wild and use it to cultivate your own. I put mine in a container so I know it’s safe from dogs, etc. No one is advocating eating something growing on the streets of DC.

  • It tastes better if dogs have marked it

  • I love purslane and let it grow in my pots with the other plants. I eat it as a salad. I have heard of those who cook it. Here’s a picture of purslane salad . Make a dressing of lime juice, freshly minced garlic, salt and olive oil and it is wonderful with avocados.

  • Try it with a dressing of lime juice, salt, freshly minced garlic and olive oil. Throw on some avocado too. Yummy.

  • This stuff popped up in my front yard after I weeded out the bermuda grass. Very tasty in or as a salad and makes good ground cover around your other plants.

  • I love purslane! Can never find it, though.

  • I have a lot growing in my garden – it showed up one year and has come back very reliably ever since.

    If anyone wants some I have plenty of small seedlings. It grows quickly and does well in hot weather.

    • Hi-
      I’d love a cutting. I used to harvest it from a CSA but haven’t had it in years. Happy to stop by over the weekend if it works for you.

  • Rats Rats Rats

  • anon. gardener

    It is delicious. The Turkish way of preparing it – sauted, like spinach, with a garlicky yoghurt sauce.

  • anon. gardener

    here is a recipe – i would leave the meat out, personally:

    The Turkish word for it is semizotu – google that and lots of recipes pop up.

  • After eating a shockingly expensive (but very good) salad at Radius that featured one of my common garden weeds, I allowed a huge and healthy plant of purslane that appeared seemingly from nowhere to grow in one of my potted plants last year and I’ve been allowing it to re-seed and grow in my other pots (within reason). This way I know the plants are pesticide (& dog urine) free. Chopped purslane makes a great salad combined with avocado, cucumber, tomato & red onion. I use the whole plant–the stems add a nice crunch. I’ve also discovered that adding a little bit of it to a batch of pesto helps keep it green (pesto normally turns a disconcerting brown-green).

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