Lurking in your garden, around your flowerbeds, in the cracks of your sidewalk - Purslane! A flowering succulent, purslane resembles a small jade plant, keeping low to the ground it branches out in an almost circular pattern. Stem is a reddish color with no hairs, leaves are green to yellow-green, small yellow flowers bloom June-July.
Similar plant is the hairy-stemmed spurge which is poisonous, to distinguish between the two, 1.hair stem and 2. the spurge will emit a milky sap similar to that of a milkweed plant when broken and squeezed.
Purslane is a great addition to salads and sandwiches. It can also be used as a potherb (cooked like spinach).
The taste is similar to watercress or spinach. It's ideal to eat the fresh young plants raw, as they get older they're better cooked.
This plant is also a great vegetable source of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.
For over 2000 years people have been using this plant as food and medicine. Purslane in ancient times was looked upon as an anti-magic herb, strewn around a bed was said to afford protection against evil spirits.
Ancient Romans used purslane to treat dysentery, intestinal worms, headache, and stomachache. It was also used in ways to relieve dry coughs, shortness of breath, cure inflammation and sores.
"It was supposed to cool 'heat in the liver' and to be excellent for 'hot agues,' and all pains in the head 'proceeding from the heat, want of sleep or the frenzy,' and also to stop haemorrhages.
The herb, bruised and applied to the forehead and temple, was said to allay excessive heat, and applied to the eyes to remove inflammation. Culpepper says: 'The herb if placed under the tongue assuayeth thirst. Applied to the gout, it easeth pains thereof, and helps the hardness of the sinews, if it come not of the cramp, or a cold cause.'
The juice, with oil of Roses, was recommended for sore mouths and swollen gums and also to fasten loose teeth. Another authority declared that the distilled water took away pains in the teeth, both Gerard and Turner telling us too, that the leaves eaten raw are good for teeth that are 'set on edge with eating of sharpe and soure things.'
The seeds, bruised and boiled in wine, were given to children as a vermifuge."
Since 2015 we have been exploring and sharing all the amazing things we’ve found in nature.
Emily is an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist who is most often found out in the woods.