Saturday, February 16, 2013

The edible Portulaca or Purslane weed

COMMON NAMES: PIGWEED / PURSLANE
BOTANICAL NAME: PORTULACA OLERACEA

DESCRIPTION
Pigweed is an annual succulent weed. It can grow in areas of poor soil nutrition such as rocky wasteland and roadsides and also in good friable soil. It prefers full sun to shade. It is a prostrate spreading creeper that has a central taproot system.  Also known by the common name of Purslane this weed is a broadleaf plant with pinkish stems. It is a warm season weed and when mature it has small yellow flowers.

METHOD OF SPREAD
Portulaca oleracea reproduces mainly by vegetative spread and can also reproduce via seed.

CONTROL
Hand weeding is achievable with this plant although its taproot system does anchor it to the ground. Solarisation is a good option for controlling pigweed. Solarisation involves covering the weed with black plastic which kills the weed with heat.

PURSLANE IS AN EDIBLE PLANT
Not only is it edible but it also tastes good. Of all the edible weeds I've tried so far this the only one I enjoy. I've found others I've tried have got that sharp rocket / endive edge to their flavour whereas Purslane is mild. It is a great substiture for lettuce or other similar greens in a salad.  Also the nutritional properties of Purslane also reflect favourably on it as an edible plant. It contains vitamin A, B and C. It contains the minerals magnesium, potassium, iron and calcium. It is also a source of omega 3 fatty acids. Of course never eat any plant that you are not 100% confident of identifying.  




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