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Purslane: Is Gandhi’s Favorite Food In Your Yard?

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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).

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Brigitte Mars

Brigitte Mars, a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild, is a nutritional consultant who has been working with Natural Medicine for over 40 years. She teaches Herbal Medicine at Naropa University, Boulder College of Massage, and Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts and has a private practice. Brigitte is the author of 12 books, including Rawsome!. Find more healthy living articles, raw food recipes, videos, workshops, books, and more at Also check out her international model yogini daughter, Rainbeau at


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5:24PM PDT on Jul 4, 2011

Excellent article. Thanks for sharing.

10:29AM PDT on Sep 15, 2010

Save seeds, send life

Thank you.

10:29AM PDT on Sep 15, 2010

Save seeds, send life

Thank you.

3:16PM PDT on Sep 7, 2010

Thank you for the article, interesting...

1:12AM PDT on Sep 1, 2010

we have this variety of purslane down here in southeast florida that is all over the place. But it doesn't have the usual paddle shaped leaves, but pointed leaves. Does anyone know if this type is edible.
incidentally, whoever tagged the portuclaca name to the family commonly known as the edible purslane must have been in error, as it is the poisonous 'spurge' which has the milky sap!

5:19AM PDT on Aug 23, 2010

Sounds yummy!

10:52AM PDT on Aug 22, 2010

Walmart is selling Purslane in 10" X 10" trays, densely packed. Good bargain. There will by Purslane in pots all around my house. Yummy. Fresh salad on hand!

9:33AM PDT on Aug 21, 2010

i think it`s best to leave the weeds in the garden. they`re more nutritious.

7:04PM PDT on Aug 17, 2010

I just checked Wikipedia. The purslane mentioned here is an herb apparently. My flowers are in the same family, but the leaves are probably not edible. The flowers are very pretty, though.

6:55PM PDT on Aug 17, 2010

I may be way off base. That does not look like my purslane plants. There are no blossoms. Is there a purslane herb that is different from purslane flowers?

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