Letter Re: Purslane: Portulaca Oleracea

Today, I’m writing about Purslane, also known by farm folk as “Pigweed”, (because pigs just love it). It’s one of the earlier wild herbs, (wild edible) found in springtime , but thrives throughout early and mid-summer. By most people, It’s considered a nuisance weed that pops up everywhere in late spring. It grows well in disturbed soils, and can be found mostly in old garden plots, meadows fields and along trails, stone walls and fence rows.

It’s a small inconspicuous looking weed [see photos] that grows to about 6 inches to a foot tall, sometimes lying down to assume a creeping ivy like plant. It’s dark green, wedge shaped leaves are thick and succulent as they are rich in juice and nutrition high in Vitamin C. The entire plant, (including the stems and roots) can be used as an wild edible and as a medicinal plant. Tasting tangy with a slight sour taste similar to sorrel, (often mixed with Sorrel as a pot herb to make the French Sorrel Soup call Bonne Femme). Purslane can be used raw in salads or just to chew on right out of the garden or trail. Purslane can also be cooked and use as you would spinach.

Medicinally this little gem has the ability to pull ‘Heat’ from the body. On a hot day blend some fresh picked Purslane, stems and all, with a stalk of celery and an apple in a juicer for a very refreshing and highly nutritious drink to allay thirst quicker than lemonade. Just a purslane leaf crushed or bruised and placed under your tongue can relieve thirst while hiking or working in the garden or yard. During bouts of heat exhaustion a poultice of macerated leaves and stems placed over the eyes and temples will pull heat out of the body making recovery quicker.

As long as you have your juicer out, by making a juice of Purslane and strawberries, (even wild Strawberries) and used as a mouthwash and or gargle that reputedly will help fasten loose teeth. Use and swish briskly in the mouth then carefully spit, trying not to dislodge the loose tooth further. A few application will help ‘Set’ the loose tooth.

Purslane, including leaves, stems and roots when cooked down and strained through a sieve or collander, then adding honey to the liquid or sugar to make a simple syrup to taste, can be used as a very effective cough syrup. Native American have used Purslane for dry non-productive coughs.?

Keep an eye out for this little inconspicuous and little known wild weed as it’s healthful value is little appreciated now. – TinMan, Editor of the Belfire Botanicals Blog