Purslane is predominantly a weed in the US, but in Eastern countries, it has been used as a source of flavoring and nutrition for centuries. Not keen on eating a weed? Consider this: It's very name suggests eating it. The scientific name is Portulacala oleracea. The oleracea part means 'eaten as a vegetable'. It's rumored to have a lemony spinach taste. Purslane just happens to contain alpha-linolenic acid, one of the highly sought-after Omega-3 fatty acids. Why pay for fish oil when you can grow your own Omega-3 fatty acids? And the good news is that since it "grows like a weed", making it a part of your edible landscape isn't challenging. Who knows, maybe you already have Purslane growing and you didn't even know it! Let's talk about how to identify it.
What does purslane look like?
How do you identify this edible weed? Purlane is a summer annual that when mature grows out and mat-like. Leaves are succulent, thick, fleshy and paddle-shaped. They alternate and are often crowded near the stem tips. The stems are prostrate and reddish-green. They are thick, fleshy and hairless and grow up to 20" long. Purslane flowers early in its growth cyle (within 2-3 weeks) and continues to flower until fall. The flowers are small, yellow and star-shaped. A word of warning, it looks like another low growing weed, spurge, which is NOT edible. In fact, if eaten, spurge can be poisonous.
How to manage purslane?
So, you still don't want it in your lawn? Like many other weeds, pulling is effective. Pull when the ground is wet and it will be even easier. Be sure to get purslane out of undesired areas while they are young. They are prolific seeders and can take over quickly. To ensure killing the entire plant, apply a post-emergent herbicide. Keep landscaped areas mulched to discourage purslane from growing. See our lawncare calendar to learn when Pure Green sprays for broadleaf and other weeds.
Appearance: Stems are reddish-green and thick, creep along the ground, and rarely grow more than 3-4” tall. He leaves are paddle-shaped and can be up to 2” long. This is considered an edible weed, but be sure not to confuse it with spurge, which is NOT edible.
Life cycle: Annual
Where it grows: Lawns, gardens and meadows.
Reproduces by: Seed
How to prevent: Apply a pre-emergent herbicide in mid spring to keep it from germinating.
How to remove: Hand pulling is easy, especially when soil is wet. A post-emergent herbicide will work as well.