Purslane: One Plant You Must Know To Survive

August 09, 2022

Survival Superfood or Weed?

“There is something of the marvelous in all things nature” – Aristotle.

PurslanePurslane, little hogweed, pusley, verdolaga, children’s spinach, little fat weed, ma chi xian are all common cultural and regional names for this plant.  In the United States, we call it purslane.  We also tend to walk right by it or pull it up and throw it away as a weed.  It is considered a weed, and it grows like one too.  It can grow in zones 5-10, and a single plant can produce 50,000 seeds.  It is an annual herb that grows in almost all corners of the world in various soil conditions.

You should stop walking past this plant and learn to grow it, find it in the wild, and use it.  Modern studies have determined that this plant has more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other green plant on the planet.  You can extract the juice from it to treat various skin conditions.  Many cultures around the world eat this plant regularly in their cuisine.  It has a unique flavor profile: slightly salty, peppery, and a little citrusy.

This purslane showed up on its own in my garden a few months ago, and I’ve let it grow without any gardening attention.  In this blog, we’ll tell you how to recognize purslane. We’ll make a spicy Little Hogweed Relish topping and a delicious Purslane Pesto.  After this video, you will probably want to grow some, find some in your lawn or driveway, in the wild, or buy some in your local Spanish, Asian, or middle eastern market.  You will want to give it a try.

One of the reasons we like purslane is that plant identification can be tricky.  We are always afraid we will get it wrong.  In the case of purslane, it’s very distinctive with its smooth red stems, succulent-like leaves, yellow flowers, and tiny poppy-like seeds.  The closest look-alikes are spurges and types of sandmats, which can have a reddish center spot on the leaves and will have fuzzy, slightly hairy stems.  Prostrate spurge has a milky sap when you break a stem open, whereas the sap in purslane is clear.  So, even with its many varieties, purslane is easy to ID with its clear sap, succulent-like paddle leaves with red edges and yellow flowers.  Still, if you are unsure about any plant, seek professional confirmation.

The second reason we like purslane is that it is a nutritional powerhouse, which we will address later in this blog, after the recipes.

Once you have isolated a plant, you can transplant it to any garden or pot on your patio, and it will grow so easily that you will understand why it is considered a weed.  This plant is really huge.  You can clip it liberally and harvest as much as you want without fear of hurting the plant.   All above-ground parts of the plant are edible: leaves, seeds, stems, buds, flowers, and probably also the roots, although they are not commonly used. The entire plant has a mucilaginous, slightly-slimy texture.

To process the clipped plant, we first give it a good soak in some tap water.  This will remove any bugs that may reside on it, though this plant tends to only appeal to one kind of bug–the sawfly. These will leave black or blotchy telltale marks on the leaves if you have an infestation. If you do, toss the whole plant and plant purslane elsewhere in your garden, as the sawfly larvae will pupate underground, live in the soil, and reinfest future growth.  

You will also see that copious amounts of seeds are released and left behind in the water.  You could dump the seeds, but we just pour them into another spot in our garden.  We have also heard you can just sprout them on your windowsill like micro-greens, and we will try this with my next batch.  Purslane can grow right alongside most plants without any problem.  This particular plant is growing between mint, a hot pepper, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, and an artichoke plant in a more wild part of our garden.

We then process the plant by simply chopping it into smaller pieces.  The stems are soft, so they can be consumed along with the rest of the plant.  You can add the leaves or chopped plant raw into salads.  Some people just use the leaves in this manner.  The stems are often pickled.

You could blend a handful into a smoothie with other ingredients, which will not significantly alter the taste of the other ingredients.  Here I am going to make a spicy relish to top my Brats.  In a small pan, drizzle a little olive oil.  Add chopped garlic, half onion, and a pinch of salt.  The purslane tastes slightly salty, so you can skip the salt if you want.  When the onions get a little translucent, we add some chopped jalapeno.  When that comes together a bit, we add a couple of handfuls of my chopped purslane.  This cooks down well because of the moisture content.  Finally, add a few cherry tomatoes.  Then, to get that relish flavor, we add one ounce of apple cider vinegar.  Cook for a few more minutes, and that’s it.  That’s my Little Hogweed Relish.  It’s nutritious and tastes really good.

Even better than that is purslane when you use it to make pesto.  We think it pulls more flavor out of the basil.  To make that start by quickly and ever so lightly toasting pine nuts.  Add a half-cup of olive oil in a blender, a big handful of basil, and probably around two cups.  We don’t measure much of anything in the kitchen, sorry.  Add two massive handfuls of purslane. A cup or two of Parmesan cheese, five or six cloves of garlic, just a pinch of salt, and a little cracked black pepper.  Finally, add your ½ to ¾ cup of lightly toasted pine nuts.  Then I blend this up on low and by pulsing.  

This provides plenty of pesto you can simply add to your favorite pasta.  Before we add it to my boiled and strained pasta, we like to add a little butter or olive oil to the hot pasta.  This helps the pesto break up and sauce up around your pasta.  Keep the temperature on your pasta so the flavors can diffuse into the dish, and the parmesan can melt.  That’s it.  You can serve it with a little more parmesan on top.  This dish is reheated from the night before because it was so good my family devoured it all before I could even shoot a video of it.  This little plate was all that was left of all the fettuccine I made.  It is that good.

If Little Hogweed Relish or Purslane Pesto doesn’t sound appealing to you, you can find hundreds of Purslane recipes online with a simple Google search.  It will leave many wondering why they haven’t eaten Purslane before.


Hogweed PestoMany plants get labeled superfoods, but, in my opinion, they aren’t.  This one truly is.  Next to the sunflower, it’s one of my favorite plants because it is nutritionally dense, completely edible, and grows so incredibly easily.  This plant is truly a superfood.  Just 3.5 ounces has just 16 calories.  However, it contains 26% of your daily value of vitamin A, which is more than the equivalent weight of Salmon.  It has 35% of your daily value of vitamin C, which ranks it higher than a tomato.  It has 17% Magnesium, 15% Manganese, 14% Potassium, 11% Iron, and 7% Calcium.  It has Glutathione and Betalain, which are both anti-oxidants.  Are you having trouble sleeping?  This superfood also contains Melatonin, a hormone that can help you fall asleep.

Most importantly, purslane is a superfood because it is rich in two types of fatty acids–ALA and EPA.  ALA is found in many plants, but EPA is found chiefly in animal products like fatty fish and algae.  Compared to other greens, it is exceptionally high in ALA. It contains 5-7 times more ALA than spinach. It also contains trace amounts of EPA. This omega-3 fat is more active in the body than ALA and is generally not found in plants that grow on land.  It contains more omega-3 fatty acids than any other known plant on the planet.  This is a food you can easily survive and thrive on.  The only caution I would give is that it contains oxalates, which can be an issue for people who tend to develop kidney stones.  Still, they have just 15% of the oxalates as the equivalent amount of beets, so it shouldn’t be a problem for most.

Purslane is sold in cosmetic formulations, dried for tea, and even powdered in capsule form as a nutritional supplement for antioxidant support.  It’s a superfood that is growing in popularity.


Hogweed CultivationPurslane grows around the world in zones 5-10.  It’s incredibly hearty and very prolific.  It is thought that it might have originated in Asia.  It is also supposed that it was brought to the Americas, but there is no real evidence of that.  There’s more evidence that indigenous people had used and eaten purslane long before Europeans arrived in North America.  Historically, it was cultivated in central Europe, Asia, and the Mediterranean area.

More than likely, it is growing right now in your lawn, garden, or the cracks of your driveway.  As with any foraged plant, be sure the area you are foraging from hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals.  If it’s your first time finding and using a purslane, seek an expert’s verification.  You may be able to acquire purslane through your local nursery.  If you can’t find it in nature or have reservations about your identification of it, please use a professional seed source: Purslane Seeds.

Look for this plant right under your feet, and give it a try.    You will be glad you did.  You could survive quite well on this wild plant that most will walk right by.  Give that pesto a try, and let me know what you think in the comments.

As always, stay safe out there.

Purslane Seeds – https://bit.ly/42vyRJO

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