Garden Notes: Something new in the garden –Purslane

The Edible Weed: Purslane

The Edible Weed: Purslane

I noticed it first about a couple of months ago –an attractive little plant, quite prolific, close to the ground, shallow-rooted, with an unusual and pleasing arrangement of leaves….

Since I hadn’t planted it, and it was cropping up…apparently, wherever it pleased….it was, therefore…A WEED! Right?

Well, not quite.

First, let’s get a definition of “WEED”:
Weed: A plant considered undesirable, unattractive, or troublesome; especially one growing where it is not wanted in cultivated ground

By this definition, this plant did not quite qualify as a weed…

And now, I have identified it, and now it certainly does not qualify. Because I have identified it as PURSLANE, a plant that is full of desirable qualities.

It contains more Omega-3 fatty acids than ANY OTHER leafy vegetable plant –an extraordinary amount, according to some experts.
It also contains vitamins A, C, some B, and carotenoids, as well as dietary minerals such as magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron. And some pigmentation types that are potent anto-oxidants.

The ancient Greeks, apparently, recognized its medicinal qualities –regarding it as a remedy for constipation and urinary system inflammation.
Added to this is the fact that Pliny –doesn’t say whether The Elder or The Younger, but let’s not quibble– had such a high opinion of Purslane that he advised wearing the plant as an amulet to expel all evil.

(Get that: EXPEL ALL EVIL!!!
Wow! Look out, Axis of Evil. It’s Purslane for you, Osama Bin Laden. And you can probably throw Vladimir Putin in there as well……)
Plus –and surely this is a HUGE PLUS– no more sin, and no more sinning. WOW! This is big!

Well, perhaps not…let’s not be rash….

As you can see –part of me does take all this with a grain of salt.

But the qualities of Purslane as an edible vegetable, essentially as an ingredient especially suitable for salads, do seem to me unarguable, and I have started to cultivate it, which means –for the moment– putting it into pots, and seeing what I can do to help its growth.

I have in the past praised the properties of Dandelion leaves (especially for salad purposes), and I like the prospect of having my quotidian salads made up of the two.
(My friend Hanna the artist, who lived in Carrara in Italy –source of Micelangelo’s marble– for several years, told me that the locals regulary picked wild dandelion leaves for their salads. They used the younger newer leaves as they were less bitter. (I’m still not sure if it’s not “The Bitter” that is the effective aspect of the dandelion….but that’s another matter.)

But let it be known: Purslane and Dandelion both are, as I now see it, providential gifts….

Which leads me to a point of Green-Theology: If we were “as God” –I know, a proveably dangerous presumption– knowing all things, including the beneficial properties of all plants, THERE WOULD BE NO WEEDS!!!
NO WEEDS! Meaning, no weedkillers. And no weedkilling. And no more putting down of others as WEEDS…

Watch this space.


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