My vegetable garden got a late start with the cold wet spring. But suddenly it exploded into a weed bed. In mid-June, we did manage to put in a few tomato plants, some shiso, basil, and marigolds. I see some sweet husk tomatoes (sometimes called ground cherries) have volunteered: they look like tomatillos but much smaller and sweet. Thirty years ago I grew them but we moved and unfortunately I didn’t save any of the seeds. I can’t wait until they get ripe!
The plant that is surrounding the tomatoes and shiso is a “weed” called purslane. I’d not seen it in such profusion away from a sidewalk or parking lot before. It’s a pretty plant, and after a bit of research I decided to give it a culinary treatment. Nice! First was this salad.
Members of the Portulaca genus are hardy or half hardy annuals with succulent leaves. They are easily grown even in poor soil. Purslane is considered a weed in the United States, but it is eaten throughout much of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Mexico.The stems, leaves, flower buds, and seeds are edible. The leaves have a tangy, vaguely salty flavor and can be added to salads, stir-fried, cooked like spinach, or added to stews and soups. Purlane is rich in vitamins A, B, and C as well as in omega 3 fatty acids.
The cultivated varieties are known as Sun Plant, Rose Moss and Wax Pink. They bloom from summer though autumn with yellow, pink, red, and white cup-shaped flowers.
Purslane grows from seeds (often self-sowing) and can be propagated from stem cuttings.
Don’t pick purslane from beside roads or parking lots, or in fields which have been sprayed. Heavy metals and pesticides are not good to eat!
There is a spurge which resembles the low-growing purslane, and which grows in similar places: be sure the leaves you harvest are not from this plant. They can irritate your skin, especially mucus membranes of your eyes, nose and mouth. If the leaves leak a milky sap, then do not eat them!
Culinary Musings, Plant Biology.com, Dave’s Garden, and Wikipedia