Purslane Identification

Overview

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is a sprawling annual succulent. The plant is also known as pigweed, verdolaga, pusley and little hogweed. It is part of the Portulacaceae family. It appears throughout the Middle East, North Africa, India and Australia. It also exists in the United States, where it is considered to be an invasive weed.

Characteristics

Purslane has yellow flowers, all of which have five sections. The flowers can be up to 6 mm wide. The stems of purslane are generally prostrate, smooth and reddish in color. The seeds of Purslane are situated on a small pod.

Food

Even though Purslane is considered a weed in the United States, in other parts of the world it is seen as a summer leaf vegetable. The taste is said to be sweet, salty and sour--with a chewy texture. Purslane is commonly consumed in Mexico, Australia, Asia and Europe; and is used for stir-fry, salads, stews and soups. Additionally, Native Australians used Purslane to make seedcakes.

Nutrition

Purslane has an abundance of vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, carotenoids, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium and antioxidants.

Medicinal Uses

In traditional Chinese medicine, Purslane has several different health applications. It can be used for the treatment of dysentery, an intestinal inflammatory disorder. It can also manage treatments and infections relating to the genitourinary tract. The fresh herb can also be used as a topical treatment for sores, as well as snake or bug bites.

Weed Control

Since purslane is considered to be an invasive weed in the United States, many people want to eliminate it. The plant can be pulled out by hand or treated with herbicides.

Keywords: purslane identification, Portulaca oleracea, little hogweed

About this Author

Isabel Prontes is a freelance writer and traveler residing in Manhattan, NY. She has traveled to five continents and counting. Her work has appeared on a number of websites, such as Travels, eHow.com and "Happy Living Magazine." Prontes has a professional background in public relations; she received a bachelor's degree in communication studies from Pace University.