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Fields, Forests & Wetlands Foods of Eastern North America

A Complete Wild Food Guide

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Glistrida Greek salad with Purslane. (By: Lemur12 CC BY-SA 3.0)

Season: Spring & Summer

Urban, Rural or Both: Both

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea). Also called the Little Hogweed. It is common most everywhere. It is, as the Latin name suggests, a very close relative of the Portulaca flower you can buy for your garden. This is a cultivated food crop in India and parts of Europe. This is one of the best raw greens there is, period. It is just bizarre you can't buy this in grocery stores. The fact most of us in the west pull this "weed" from our gardens to give room to other plants that don't taste as good or grow as well just makes me nuts. And the fact it wants to grow almost anywhere and never seems bothered by pests, makes it an ideal crop.

Greens & Flowers:

An odd feature of this green vegetable that the earlier in the day you pick it, the stronger the lemony bite of the taste, and the later in the day you pick it, the milder it is. Try tasting it different times during the day and you will find a time it suits your taste best.

This is an amazingly versatile food. All parts of the plant above ground are usable in salads, stir-frying, soups, almost anything. In salads, it ads a zing to the flavor, like a natural vinegar or lemon. In soups it acts as a thickener. In a stir-fry it acts like Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus). I like it best as a salad green or just eating a handful when I find them. Very good raw taste, and nice crisp texture. Eat the stems, the flowers and all. Just cut or snap a section off, rinse and eat.


The Purslane plant produces huge number of tiny seeds in sacks at the end of each stem. I find collecting them to be a lot of work for the amount of food you get, but they do taste good in any kind of cooking.

They can be ground into flour, or added whole to any type of bread dough. I also put them whole into soups. They have also been used tradionally for making seed cakes.

Growing this plant in your home garden:

For detailed growing instructions, go to my Wild Foods Home Garden website Purslane page.


Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) range. Distribution map courtesy of U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA Natural Resources Service) and used in accordance with their policies.


Close up of Purslane leaves and flowers. (By: Ethel Aardvark CC BY-SA 3.0)


(By: Frank Vincentz CC BY-SA 3.0)


Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) seeds. (Steve Hurst, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database)


Drawing. (USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Vol. 2: 40)


Purslane plant. The young stems are edible and tender too. This one was growing on dry, poor soil during a drought.

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Important Notes when Identifying
Rules & Cautions
Dangerous Plants to Avoid Touching

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