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harvesting opportunistic Portulaca Oleracea / Purslane that shows up in the garden

  • prima Aug 19, 2011 02:46 PM
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Are all types of opportunistic portulaca oleracea / purslane (the type that shows up in a Canadian garden without being planted by the gardener) edible?

I have a fair amount in my garden, and it certainly looks like the Portulaca Oleracea photos I've seen online, but have been treating it as a weed rather than a green.

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  1. I don't know about the edibility of ALL varieties of purslane, but I do know that all purslanes contain extraordinarily high levels of fatty acids. That's a good thing, but it also means that, more than most other plants, they are like sponges for environmental toxins like pesticides, petrochemicals, heavy metals, and the estrogen mimickers that leach out of plastics. So it's a bad idea to eat wild purslane unless you know for sure it's been growing in very clean, naturally fertilized soil and with a pure water supply. And if it's shown up in a garden in which pesticides, herbicides, or synthetic growth-enhancing products have definitely been used, don't even think of eating it. It's a sad irony: purslane grows beautifully, wild, with no effort or irrigation, in most of the world for most of the year, and is truly a nutritional powerhouse, but the very specialness of its chemical profile make it more quickly and thoroughly contaminated by all the toxins in its environment... Anyway, I hope it' turns out that your particular batch is clean and edible, because it's also a really delicious green.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ninrn

      That's interesting -- and disturbing. I have some growing in sand in the "beach" next to my pond. Do you think the pond liner under the sand might have contaminated it? I don't use pesticides.

      1. re: Glencora

        Sorry. I don't know. Maybe someone else will have the answer.

    2. For many years, my most pesky garden weed was purslane. By midsummer, I could find plants that spread like an octopus for a couple of feet in every direction. It's very satisfying to pull out - I mean harvest - these monsters because one plant covers such a large area.I also live in Ontario and the plants match the photos I've seen, so they must be the edible variety you mention. Having said that, I don't eat it and just can't bring myself to do so. I think too many years of pulling them out of my vegetable garden has given my a bad attitude toward them. Yes, I hear it's delicious. But I just can't do it. Unless your garden is otherwise compromised with chemicals I say go ahead and enjoy it - you can have mine too, if you want it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Nyleve

        It's been the worst weed for us, too. Actually had been annoyed that the topsoil our friend gifted us was "contaminated" with portulaca- we pull out dozens of plants every few days, and it keeps coming back!