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Story and photos by Russ Grayson

Common name: Purslane
Botanical name: Portulaca oleracea, family Portulacaceae.
Growth form:

  • low-growing ground cover with thick, juicy leaves
  • annual succulent
  • a summer crop.

Reproduction: From seed.
Centre of diversity: Australasia, North Africa, Middle East, Indian subcontinent.

Uses: Eaten as a leaf vegetable fresh in a salad; stir-fried; cooked like spinach; because of its mucilaginous quality it also is suitable for soups and stews:
Australian Aborigines use the seeds to make seedcakes. 
Greeks fry the leaves and the stems with feta cheese, tomato, onion, garlic, oregano, and olive oil, add it in salads, boil it or add to casseroled chicken. 

Edible part: Stems, leaves and flower buds. Slightly sour and salty taste.

Uses in food garden design: 

  • food — contains omega-3 fatty acids
  • ground cover — to stabilise soils, reduce the erosive impact of heavy rain, retain soil moisture and shade soils to reduce high summer temperatures.

Notes: The plant is an archaeobotanical find at many prehistoric sites. Commonly regarded as a weed in Australia.

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