Herb: Green Purslane
Latin name: Portulaca oleracea
Family: Portulacaceae (Purslane Family)
Medicinal use of Green Purslane:The plant is antibacterial, antiscorbutic, depurative, diuretic and febrifuge. The leaves are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which is thought to be important in preventing heart attacks and strengthening the immune system. Seed sources such as walnuts, however, are much richer sources. The fresh juice is used in the treatment of strangury, coughs, sores etc. The leaves are poulticed and applied to burns, both they and the plant juice are particularly effective in the treatment of skin diseases and insect stings. A tea made from the leaves is used in the treatment of stomach aches and headaches. The leaf juice is applied to earaches, it is also said to alleviate caterpillar stings. The leaves can be harvested at any time before the plant flowers, they are used fresh or dried. This remedy is not given to pregnant women or to patients with digestive problems. The seeds are tonic and vermifuge. They are prescribed for dyspepsia and opacities of the cornea.
Description of the plant:
(9 3/4 inch)
Habitat of the herb:Fields, waste ground, roadside verges, cultivated ground and by the sea.
Edible parts of Green Purslane:Leaves and stems - raw or cooked. The young leaves are a very acceptable addition to salads, their mucilaginous quality also making them a good substitute for okra as a thickener in soups. Older leaves are used as a potherb. The leaves have a somewhat sour flavour. A spicy and somewhat salty taste. The leaves are a source of omega-3 fatty acids, though seed sources such as walnuts are magnitudes richer. The leaves can be dried for later use. They contain about 1.8% protein, 0.5% fat, 6.5% carbohydrate, 2.2% ash. Another analysis gives the following figures per 100g ZMB. 245 - 296 calories, 17.6 - 34.5g protein, 2.4 - 5.3g fat, 35.5 - 63.2g carbohydrate, 8.5 - 14.6g fibre, 15.9 - 24.7g ash, 898 - 2078mg calcium, 320 - 774mg phosphorus, 11.2 - 46.7mg iron, 55mg sodium, 505 - 3120mg potassium, 10560 - 20000ug B-carotene equivalent, 0.23 - 0.48mg thiamine, 1.12 - 1.6mg riboflavin, 5.58 - 6.72mg niacin and 168 - 333mg ascorbic acid. Seed - raw or cooked. The seed can be ground into a powder and mixed with cereals for use in gruels, bread, pancakes etc. The seed is rather small and fiddly to utilize. In arid areas of Australia the plants grow quite large and can produce 10, 000 seeds per plant, a person can harvest several pounds of seed in a day. The seeding plants are uprooted and placed in a pile on sheets or something similar, in a few days the seeds are shed and can be collected from the sheet. In Britain, however, yields are likely to be very low, especially in cool or wet summers. The seed contains (per 100g ZMB) 21g protein, 18.9g fat 3.4g ash. Fatty acids of the seeds are 10.9% palmitic, 3.7% stearic, 1.3% behenic, 28.7% oleic, 38.9% linoleic and 9.9% linolenic. The ash of burnt plants is used as a salt substitute.
Propagation of the herb:Seed - for an early crop, the seed is best sown under protection in early spring and can then be planted out in late spring. Outdoor sowings in situ take place from late spring to late summer, successional sowings being made every two to three weeks if a constant supply of the leaves is required.
Cultivation of Green Purslane:Fields, waste ground, roadside verges, cultivated ground and by the sea.
Known hazards of Portulaca oleracea:None known
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.