April, 1998

1.Big Blooming Purslane -- Big, Beautiful and Edible -- Dolly Parton's Pride

Purslane is the heat-tolerant, drought-tolerant flower which is sometimes referred to as the Dolly Parton flower because it blooms from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The new, larger-flowered Eubi-type purslanes are just as spectacular and show- stopping as Miss Dolly's personal attributes. The smaller blooming "weedy" cousin of the cultivated Dolly Parton flower as well as Dolly herself have suddenly become the belles of the garden among creative chefs and nutritionists. Although purslane has proliferated as a wild edible around the world for centuries, in its renaissance purslane is acclaimed for not one, but two starring attractions: the rediscovery of its cooking possibilities--its tinker-toy eye appeal, crisp texture and lightly tangy taste--and the scientific discovery of its potentially healthful omega-3 fatty acids.If this weren't enough, it has above average values of Vitamins A and C and provides all of these goodies with only 15 calories in a 100-gram portion (as compared with 76 in a boiled potato).

Purslane is eaten extensively in soups and salads throughout the Mediterranean area, where the incidence of heart disease is low. The Russians dry and can it for the winter. In Mexico it is called VERDOLAGA and is a favorite comfort food, eaten in an omelet or as a side dish, rolled in tortillas, or dropped by handfuls into soups and stews.

The exciting new health discovery is purslane's high content of alpha linolenic acid, a type of the omega-3 fatty acids. It may affect human health directly, but the most intriguing possibility is that the human body might be able to convert into other, related kinds of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) found in fish oils. Researchers see evidence that these substances lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as make the blood less likely to form clots. But ages before this scientific finding, purslane was eaten as treatment for arthritis, inflammation and heart disease and to promote general good health.

Portulaca oleracea
Purslane Family

Purslane is a succulent low-growing plant which is very tasty and crunchy. The entire plant can be used, the stems being most succulent. Purslane grows all over the world, often in disturbed soil. Purslane can be used as the main salad ingredient, lightly seasoned with diced onion, vinegar, and oil. The plant is good cooked with soups, steamed, sauteed, or pickled. Add it to omelets.

Thoreau used and enjoyed purslane, and he wrote of the plant, "I have made a satisfactory dinner off a dish of purslane which I gathered and boiled. Yet men have come to such a pass that they frequently starve, not from want of necessaries, but for want of luxuries."


Purslane sprawls along the ground with its fleshy, succulent, highly branched stems. The stems are round and tinted red. The flavor of the raw stems is mild, slightly sour, and the texture is crunchy. The leaves are paddle-shaped (obovate), flat, and alternately arranged. The small flowers are yellow,sessile, and contain five two-lobbed petals. The small seed capsules produce abundant black seeds.

Purslane Recipes

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