Friday, April 11, 2014

A Plant For the Future: Purslane (Both of Them)

I'm actually speaking of two entirely different plants: Sea purslane (Sesuvium portulacastrum) and regular ol' garden purslane, Portulaca oleracea. They are both succulent, incredibly tough, and highly edible. I'm growing the latter, also known as the Dolly Parton Flower (because it blooms from 9 to 5) in my garden, and the former grows all over the place on my sand dune, with no interference from me.
Garden Purslane, MR, 2014
Purslane is a low-growing, succulent, flowering plant with a single taproot. Originally from India and Persia, purslane is sometimes considered a weed because it's so hard to get rid of once it decides it likes your garden. Mine grow under the dahlias and sunflowers just fine. The gorgeous flowers can be anything from purple to pinky-orange to golden. They are exceptionally drought-tolerant, but can handle heavy rains (the leaves flatten and shrink when there's more water). They are happy-go-lucky plants that can live in practically any conditions in most climates. They're just glad to be here.

The leaves are delicious and tangy. Most people prefer to eat the tender top leaves. Purslane is highly nutritious and contains Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins A and C, while remaining low-calorie. The leaves are great in soups and salads, or for crunch on sandwiches. They can be canned or dried for year-round munching.

Thanks to our Aggie friends in Texas, you can find some good recipes here:

Sea purslane, the Sea Pickle, is not of the same genus, but looks a bit similar and can also be eaten. It tastes like salty green beans and is particularly popular in Asia.

Sea Purslane

Purslane can be grown by seed or you can just stick a sprig in some soil and wait. It's an amazing plant. Both of them!

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