This weekly post idea fell by the wayside, but I thought I would share some information on common purslane today!
Scientific Name: Portulaca oleracea – not to be confused with the decorative variety
Appearance: It is a dark- to mid-green leafy succulent that grows low to the ground. The stems may be reddish and the leaves are smooth and rounded. It creeps until it starts growing vertically, with a maximum height of just a few inches.
Purpose: Often considered a weed, but is edible* and can be added to salads and recipes. Do not eat raw in excess due to oxalates.
Planting: It can be grown from seed or by transplanting. Likes full sun, average to rich soil, and will tolerate neglect.
Habits: It is an annual, but will spread prolifically on its own and will thrive as a reseeder. It can be used as a ground cover. If it grows too densely around cultivated plants, it can take away soil nutrients from those plants.
Key points: Cook to reduce oxalates and it is a good source of nutrition. Take care to keep it from being noxious in your beds. Add it to stir fry, soups, or salads!
*This is a weed that can be foraged for and eaten. Do not consume if it is growing in a place that is treated with pesticides or other harmful chemicals, in an area used by pets or livestock, or is growing on property you do not have permission to forage on. Wash thoroughly before consumption.
Information for Plant Feature posts is collected mostly from personal experience, but may come from many sources (often what is regarded as common knowledge), so you may notice my word choice is not very “scientific.” For specifics regarding plants in the Charlottesville area, try contacting the Piedmont Master Gardeners help desk at (434) 872-4583.