What is purslane?
Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is a succulent annual herb that is known for its fleshy, green leaves and stems. It is said to be native to India and Persia, but it has spread to other parts of the world and can now be found throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. It is commonly considered a weed in many areas, but it has been used for its medicinal and culinary properties for centuries.
The scientific name for purslane is Portulaca oleracea. It is a member of the Portulacaceae family.
Purslane is also known as Little hogweed, Pigweed, Pusley, and Verdolaga.
Purslane is a versatile plant that can grow in a variety of habitats, including gardens, lawns, fields, and waste areas. It prefers sunny locations and well-drained soil. Purslane is commonly found in warmer regions and can tolerate drought and heat.
Purslane has smooth, reddish stems that can grow up to 12 inches long. The leaves are fleshy, oval-shaped, and about 1 inch long. The flowers are small and yellow, and they bloom from mid-summer to early fall. Purslane produces tiny black seeds that can remain viable in the soil for up to 40 years.
Purslane is a natural plant species that has not been genetically modified.
Species of purslane
Known species of purslane:
There are several species of purslane, including Portulaca grandiflora, Portulaca pilosa, and Portulaca suffruticosa. However, Portulaca oleracea is the most commonly cultivated and studied species.
Wild species of purslane:
In addition to Portulaca oleracea, there are several wild species of purslane that are found throughout the world. These include Portulaca quadrifida, Portulaca rupestris, and Portulaca cryptopetala.
Benefits of purslane
Purslane is rich in several minerals, including potassium, magnesium, calcium, and iron. It also contains trace amounts of zinc, copper, and manganese.
Purslane has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body. Purslane also contains high levels of antioxidants, which can protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.
In traditional medicine, purslane has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including digestive issues, respiratory infections, and skin conditions. Some studies have shown that purslane may be beneficial for reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Purslane is a versatile herb that can be used in a variety of culinary applications. Its fleshy leaves and stems have a slightly sour, lemony flavor that is often compared to watercress or spinach. Purslane is commonly used in salads, soups, and stews. It can also be sautéed or pickled.
In Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines, purslane is a common ingredient in traditional dishes like fattoush salad and dolmas. Purslane is also a popular ingredient in Mexican and South American cuisine, where it is used in soups, stews, and salsas.
Purslane is generally considered safe for consumption, but there are a few precautions to keep in mind. Purslane can contain high levels of oxalates, which can contribute to the formation of kidney stones in some individuals. If you have a history of kidney stones, you should consult with a healthcare provider before consuming purslane.
There have been several studies conducted on the health benefits of purslane. One study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that purslane extract was effective in reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels in rats. Another study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that purslane extract was effective in reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in diabetic rats.
Purslane has also been studied for its potential anticancer properties. A study published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that purslane extract inhibited the growth of breast cancer cells in vitro. Another study published in the Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology found that purslane extract was effective in inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death) in prostate cancer cells.
Here are a few recipes that incorporate purslane:
Purslane and avocado salad
2 cups purslane leaves and stems
1/2 crumbled walnut cheese
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large bowl, combine the purslane, walnut cheese and red onion.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper.
3. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.
Purslane and chickpea stew
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 stalk green onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon African bird pepper
1 cup cooked chickpeas
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups chopped purslane leaves and stems
Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large pot, heat the sesame oil over medium heat.
2. Add the onion and sauté until the onion is translucent.
3. Add the coriander, and African bird pepper and cook for 1 minute.
4. Add the chickpeas and vegetable broth and bring to a boil.
5. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
6. Add the purslane and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
7. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
– Milad Iranshahy etal. A review of traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology of Portulaca oleracea L – doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2017.05.004. J Ethnopharmacol. 2017 Jun 9;205:158-172.
– Yan-Xi Zhou etal. Portulaca oleracea L.: A Review of Phytochemistry and Pharmacological Effects, Published online 2015 Jan 26. doi: 10.1155/2015/925631,
– Gholamhossein Sodeifian etal. Properties of Portulaca oleracea seed oil via supercritical fluid extraction: Experimental and optimization. The Journal of Supercritical Fluids Volume 135, May 2018, Pages 34-44.
– A M Mousa etal. The role of purslane in modulating diverse effects of high fat diet on biochemical, histological, and molecular parameters of rats’ liver. Braz J Biol. 2021 Nov 22;83:e248755. doi: 10.1590/1519-6984.248755. eCollection 2021.
– Lingchao Miao etal. The anti-inflammatory potential of Portulaca oleracea L. (purslane) extract by partial suppression on NF-κB and MAPK activation. Food Chem. 2019 Aug 30;290:239-245. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2019.04.005. Epub 2019 Apr 2.