Purslane Information

Overview

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) has a reputation of being both a weed and an edible treat. The plant grows as a fleshy succulent. It is an annual that reproduces from stem pieces and its ample production of seeds. The young foliage of the plant offers a taste similar to watercress. Consumed raw or cooked, the plant is a popular substitute for spinach.

History

Purslane grew abundantly in the Americas prior to Columbus according to Cornell University. The weed was growing in Europe during the 16th century, but is believed to have spread from its native habitat in India and Persia. The plant was used as a medicinal herb and food source in ancient Persia over 2,000 years ago.

Growth

The herbaceous weed grows from a thick, tough tap root. Multiple stems are produced from the base of the plant. The stems lay prostrate across the ground in a mounding fashion that can attain a height of 18 inches. Leaves appear green with a slight reddish tinge.

Flowering

Abundant yellow flowers grow in large clusters during the summer and fall. The flowers are both male and female, which renders the plant self-fertile. Pollination occurs from insects and, rarely, the wind.

Seed Production

Small seedpods form three weeks after flowering. Seeds are tiny, black and wrinkled. Each seed can remain viable for up to 40 years, according to the University of Illinois. Due to its prolific seeding, control is best gained by not allowing the plant to produce seedpods. Seeds germinate when the soil temperature reaches 90 degrees F.

Growing Location

Purslane enjoys growing in full sunlight. It grows as far north as Canada and can withstand bitterly cold regions. The plant also grows well in the hot, humid Caribbean Islands. The succulent capabilities of the foliage allows it hoard water and withstand drought well. Tilling or pulling the plant from its planting location is rarely successful because it will grow back from root or stem pieces.

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About this Author

Kimberly Sharpe is a freelance writer with a diverse background. She has worked as a Web writer for the past four years. She writes extensively for Associated Content where she is both a featured home improvement contributor (with special emphasis on gardening) and a parenting contributor. She also writes for Helium. She has worked professionally in the animal care and gardening fields.