As you can see from the above close-up, purslane flowers really look a lot like little purslane leaves with splashes of pink color. They even taste the same as the leaves! Read on to learn more about purslane's names, tastes and uses!
Purslane's botanical name is portulaca oleracea. It is an herbaceous annual grown worldwide, but thought to be native to Europe.
Purslane is also known by the synonyms: garden purslane, pigweed, little hogweed, verdolaga (green lake in Spanish as purslane prefers growing near a water source.)
Purslane Flowers... Weed or Prized Edible?
Weeds tend to be stronger than regular "prima donna"4 Garden plants and thrive even when soil is poor.
Purslane Flowers' Nutritional Value
Purslane is known as a nutritional powerhouse. The obvious nutrients you would guess are in purslane: Vitamin C, beta-carotene, and then some surprises!
The Omega 3s in purslane are quite special as normally vegetarian sources of DHA require many steps of conversion as well as nutrients to help with the conversion before it becomes usable as nerve and brain food. (Fish oil and grass-fed animals have an already usable form of DHA)
Vegetable sources of omega 3s, like you might find in flax seeds, or the more omega 6 rich chia seeds, may only find 5% converting to what we need to feed our brain and nerves. Purslane not only has the precursors in the largest amount of any vegetable, it also has the nutrients required for conversion such as magnesium, antioxidants, zinc, and vitamin E.7
Purslane Flowers' Taste
One herbalist, who wrote, Southern California Food Plants, said that it's flavor is:
" a bit tangy, citric, salty and sweet - all at the same time!"
- CW Kane
Recipes using Purslane & Purslane Flowers:
Every part of the purslane plant can be eaten (do be careful not to pick in an area that may have poison from pesticides or herbicides, or car exhaust sprayed on them - bird droppings can usually be rinsed off, if the other toxins are not there!)
Purslane does contain oxalic acid, as spinach does, so it is wise to listen to your body. Too much cooked spinach, swiss chard or other vegetables high in oxalic acid seem to inhibit calcium absorption. I feel it in my teeth hurting in a way that goes away within a day of stopping. Fresh purslane doesn't seem to be as strong in oxalic acid.
RECIPE: Pickled Purslane Flowers & Stems
Even the thick stems may be pickled as you would sauerkraut in salt water or vinegar to make salads you can save for winter! People in Holland have been known to grow purslane just for this purpose!
I usually use 1Tbsp Himalayan Sea Salt or Celtic Salt per Quart of Brine. Once dissolved, the brine may be poured over the thoroughly washed and cut to size purslane and purslane flowers in a quart jar. There are fancy tops to keep air out as you let the mix sit at room temperature for two days or so.
Adding beneficial bacteria, like Dr. Mercola's whose ferment is the only one I know of that includes K2 (for strong bones and telling D3 where it needs to go and preventing toxicity - whew! good stuff!) or sweet dairy whey I used to get it here, (but not sure if they are temporarily out - or if I bought the last container. Bob's Red Mill has discontinued it.) or using a prepared kit can be added insurance that only good bacteria grow. We usually just leave it in the brine knowing that the flavor will be awful if not good.
RECIPE: Purslane Flowers Salad of Turkish Inspiration
1/2 Red Onion, 1 lg Garlic Clove, minced, 1/2 C. Whole Milk Yogurt, 3Tbsp EV Olive Oil, 1tsp Balsamic Vinegar
6 Cups Purslane, washed & Chopped, including leaves and stems; 1 Tart, Granny Smith Apple, chopped; 1/3 C. Raisins; 1/3 C. Walnuts Toasted;
TOSS: Above Mix with 2 Tbsp. Lemon juice, salt and pepper. Optional: a Tbsp of Kimchi on the side(!)4
The amazing flavor combination you would expect with such a name! I found this recipe where there is even more good research on purlane's properties and uses!
Rinse and prepare purslane for individual salad plates, dice the avocado and bacon and arrange atop the purslane. I usually keep it simple with what I have on hand - olive oil, balsamic vinegar, & Bragg's Liquid Amino's drizzled over the top before sprinkling with Himalayan Sea salt and pepper.
RECIPE: Purslane Flowers Omelette
Purslane leaves, flowers, stems may be rinsed, chopped and stir-fried with garlic in butter or coconut oil before adding the scrambled eggs and cooking or making it into an omelet with cheese.
RECIPE: The French Soup, Bonne Femme (lit. good Woman)
Purslane leaves, flowers, stems and even seeds may be mixed 50/50 with french sorrel to make this famous French soup.
Many of the recipes online that you find for this soup with purslane include potatoes, and we don't do those much around here! Just know that purslane seems to do well fresh or even stir-fried in butter and mixed with other things - get creative and let me know what amazing recipes you create!
HERBAL RECIPES / MEDICINAL USES FOR PURSLANE FLOWERS
As shown in the above video, purslane is said to have the power to remove toxins, strengthen the immune system and deeply nourish with vitamins and minerals. It is a "cooling herb" so a blessing for warm weather.
I have been surprised how a regular diet of plants from my backyard like purslane, dandelion and moringa can help me feel more energy and mental clarity when eaten regularly!
With dopamine precursors, purslane or verdolagas may add valuable nutrition to those needing L-dopa in a natural form.7
Traditional Taiwan Uses of Purslane
The Taiwanese have used purslane for "enteritis, gastritis, diabetes, inflammation and hepatitis, as well as for improving overall liver function. In traditional Chinese medicine it is used for leeding of the genito-urinary tract and dysentery."7
The fresh juice of washed purslane was mixed with sugar and honey to relieve a dry cough, "shortness of breath and immoderate thirst."1
(I'd probably use it without the sweetener so the immune system doesn't get depressed with the sugar, but, hey! Herbalists from the 1900s had wisdom too! 😉
FORAGING PURSLANE FLOWERS
According to Didi Emmons, Author of Vegetarian Planet and Wild Flavors (see References for more tidbits on Didi) Purslane was the first plant she foraged by herself. She said,
" it met all of my foraging criteria:
It's not just easy to find, it's unavoidable.
Second, it's easy to identify.
Third, I can make it taste great without a lot of doctoring and
Fourth, it is preposterously good for you."
" Juicy purslane, hydrating and emollient with omega 3 fatty acids, coincidentally appears in the garden right next to cucumber in July to quench a parched summer palate."
- Didi Emmons
"If you gather it in the morning, it will have more malic acid and more tangy in taste...
"Gathered it in the afternoon, it will be sweeter... as the malic acid is transformed into glucose"
- John Slattery9
Well-Known Purslane Fans!
"I have made a satisfactory dinner off a dish of purslane which I gathered and boiled.
Yet men have come to pass that they frequently starve, not from want of necessaries, but for want of luxuries."6
- Henry David Thorough
Ok, so Ghandi never said an amazing quote on loving purslane, but he was known to enjoy its delicacies upon occasion!
Growing Purslane Flowers
Being an "invasive weed" you will have more trouble not growing purslane than growing it! It has a shallow, spreading root rather similar to its above-ground habit.
I like to gather seeds from purslane flowers that appears in the moist areas of the yard in late summer/ early fall. I believe this year in California, we still had purslane growing in the back by the sprinkler and shade as late as October.
I accidentally found the seeds as I was washing purslane to make a salad this fall. I thought it was clean and all of a sudden dirt was coming out like crazy - oops! That wasn't dirt! Those were purslane seeds!
I quickly stopped washing and gathered what I could to dry on a plate and save to plant in our next warm season!
Is a plant in the same order as purslane and said to have an edible root... Let me test it before you do!
1.) Grieve, MM., A Modern Herbal ed by Mrs. CF Leyel, c. 1992 3rd Edition Tiger Books Intl., London
2.) Kane, CW Southern California Food Plants: Wild Edibles of the Valleys, Foothills, Coast... and Beyond c. 2013 Lincoln Town Press
3.) Emmons, D Wild Flavors: One Chef's Transformative Year Cooking from Eva's Farm c. 2011 Chelsea Green Publishers
4.) Rathbone, O et al The Occidental Arts and Ecology Collective (OEAC) Center Cookbook c. 2105 Chelsea Green Publishers
5.) Comstock, AB Handbook of Nature Study c. 1911, 1939 & 1967 by Comstock Publishing Assoc., A Division of Cornell University Press
This reference is more because George and Martha Washington's story is romantic - and I have it on a good source that Martha Washington cooked with purslane!
9.) https://www.chelseagreen.com/2019/promise-of-purslane/ where they quote, Southwest Foraging by John Slattery