gutter variety purslane
Monday, August 22, 2011
walking up my street yesterday, with my eyes on the ground, i found my wandering thoughts interrupted by something familiar. hey, isn’t that purslane—growing right there in the gutter?
either purslane is everywhere suddenly, or i am finally aware of it enough to realize people everywhere are talking about this plant. a summer favorite at farmer’s markets, purslane is an edible succulent that only grows in warm summer soil [often thriving in poor quality soil, too] and full sunlight. it’s often been called a weed, since it is quite hardy and has a tendency to spread with a near-indestructible root system that stands up to breakage and root dividing. it’s also just an annual, so allowing it to have its summer season won’t ruin your garden for fall. in fact, it won’t ruin it at all—purslane is a great ground-cover that keeps soil moist, pulling deep water to the surface and hydrating companion plants.
moreover, though, purslane is good for you! i was just reading about its superfood qualities: Purslane contains more omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid in particular) than any other leafy vegetable plant. Simopoulos states that Purslane has 0.01 mg/g of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). This is an extraordinary amount of EPA for land-based vegetable sources. EPA is an Omega-3 fatty acid found mostly in fish, some algae, and flax seeds. It also contains vitamins (mainly vitamin A, vitamin C, and some vitamin B and carotenoids), as well as dietary minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iron. Also present are two types of betalain alkaloid pigments, the reddish betacyanins (visible in the coloration of the stems) and the yellow betaxanthins (noticeable in the flowers and in the slight yellowish cast of the leaves). Both of these pigment types are potent antioxidants and have been found to have antimutagenic properties in laboratory studies. read more on wikipedia or nutritiondata.com’s breakdown on purslane.
so, obviously i’m not going to eat it right out of the gutter, but reading about its copious seed production, i went down with an envelope to collect seeds. purslane produces little seed pods full of tiny black seeds, and you can shake or pinch them into an envelope for collection [there are 2 in the photo above, along the center horizon of the photo]. once that was done, i pulled up a healthy cluster, and took 5″ cuttings of new stems to plant in my herb garden and in little propagation pots. one way or another, i’m getting in on this plant. hopefully i can grow it from hanging pots right outside my front door. comment if you want some seeds!
while i wait to see how this experiment turns out, i’m researching recipes. here are some i found that look pretty good:
cucumber and purslane yogurt salad
purslane, peach and onion salad
purslane, meyer lemon and pear salad with kaffir lime vinaigrette
tomato, cucumber and purslane salad