Today, I’d like to write about Purslane, also known by farm folk as “Pigweed”, (cause Piggy’s just love it). It’s one of the earlier wild herbs, (wild edible) found in the spring, but thrives through early and mid-summer. By most people, it’s considered a nuisance weed that pops up everywhere in late spring, (Albeit it is now being cultivated and sold in nursery’s as an ornamental). It grows well in the wild in disturbed soils, and can be found handily, growing mostly in old garden plots, meadows fields and along trails, stone walls and fence rows.
It’s a small inconspicuous looking weed that grows to about 6 inches to a foot tall, sometimes lying down to assume a creeping ivy like plant. It’s dark green, wedge shaped leaves are thick and succulent as they are rich in juice and nutrition high in Vitamin C and trace minerals. According to Simopoulous Portulaca/ Purslane contains the highest amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids than any other leafy green vegetable tested to date. Chickens are often fed Purslane to produce eggs lower in cholesterol.
The entire plant, (including the stems and roots) can be used both as a wild edible and as a medicinal plant. Tasting tangy with a slight sour taste similar to sorrel, (often mixed with Sorrel as a pot herb to make the French Sorrel Soup known as Bonne Femme). Purslane can be used raw in salads or just to chew on right out of the garden or on the trail. Purslane can also be cooked and use as you would spinach.
Medicinally this little gem has the ability to pull “heat” from the body. On a hot day blend some fresh picked Purslane, stems and all, with a stalk of celery and an apple in a juicer for a very refreshing and highly nutritious drink to allay thirst quicker than ‘Lemonade’. Just one Purslane leaf crushed or bruised and placed under your tongue can relieve thirst while hiking or working in the garden or yard. During bouts of heat exhaustion a poultice of macerated leaves and stems placed over the eyes and temples will pull heat out of the body making recovery quicker.
As long as you have your juicer out, try making a juice of Purslane and Strawberries, even Wild Strawberries. It can also be used as a mouthwash or gargle and will help fasten loose teeth. Take a swallow and swish briskly in the mouth then carefully spit, trying not to dislodge the loose tooth further. A few applications will help ‘set’ the loose tooth.
Purslane, (including leaves, stems and roots) when cooked down and strained through a sieve or colander, then adding sugar and honey to the liquid to make a simple syrup to taste can be used as a very effective cough syrup. Native Americans have often used Purslane for dry non productive coughs.
In ancient times, Purslane was used as an anti-magick herb. It was strewn in a circle around a bed to afford protection against evil spirits and spells. It was also placed on window sills and in doorways to protect against Lightening striking.
Keep an eye out for this little inconspicuous and little known wild weed as its healthful value is little appreciated now.