Purslane (Portulaca oleracea, P. sativa) is a member of the Portulacaceae Family and also known as wild portulaca and verdolaga. It is thought that the genus name, Portulaca is from the Latin porto and laca meaning “milk carrier” in reference to its milky sap. The species name, oleracea, is Latin and means “potherb.”
Native to Persia, Africa and India, purslane was introduced into Europe by Arabs in the 15th century as a salad herb, and has spread into the United States and Central and South America. It is found in gardens and vacant area in damp to dry soil.
Purslane is an annual, low growing fleshy herb, up to eight inches tall with prostrate reddish stems. The leaves are succulent, smooth, paddle shaped and about one-half to one-inch-long and arranged alternately. Tiny yellow flowers about 3/16 of an inch open when the sun shines, followed by tiny dark colored seeds.
Purslane leaves are considered alterative, antiscorbutic (preventing scurvy), antiseptic, diuretic, hypotensive, mucilaginous, nutritive and refrigerant (Helps keep you cool).