The purslane plant is a tasty, nutritious succulent -- in fact, my favorite edible succulent. Here are some handy facts about purslane to help you see whether this plant is right for your edible garden.
Scientific name: Portulaca oleracea
Common name: purslane (also called pursley, verdolaga, fat weed, pigweed, little hogweed, andrakla, glistrida, Qulfa, Sanhti, Punarva, Kulfa)
Plant type: Frost-tender annual
Plant size: 3-9 inches tall, 6-18 inches wide
Easiest way to plant: Seed
Propagate by: Place cuttings on the ground and water
Edible parts: Leaves, stems, seeds
Fruit color: Green
Flower color(s): yellow, with yellow stamens. There are purslane cultivars with pink, red, or white flowers but it's not recommended that you eat them, as they are often higher in oxalates and can cause kidney stones and indigestion.
Flower type: Cup-shaped, with heart-shaped petals
Blooms: Summer through early fall
Leaf color(s): Green, often with red edges
Leaf type: Oval, smooth, fleshy (succulent)
Leaf size: 1 inch long, 1/4 inch wide
Stem color: Red, yellow, and/or and green (the older the plant, the more red you'll see in its stems)
Stem type: Fleshy (succulent), smooth, red or reddish green
(very important: a poisonous lookalike called "spurge" is not succulent, with thin, woody, sometimes hairy stems and a milky sap)
USDA zones: 2-13 (you may be able to get purslane to grow in USDA zone 1 in a dry, warm, sunny area with protection)
Likes: Moist soil, any pH
Tolerates: Drought, compacted soil, poor soil
Dislikes: Shade, boggy soil
Uses: Ground cover, containers, a good companion plant in dry areas. Purslane is a great plant for a low-water, drought-tolerant, or desert garden.
The purslane plant tastes better later in the day, so purslane is best picked in the late afternoon, when you're preparing dinner.
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