Portulaca oleracea

Botanical Name: Portulaca oleracea
Family: Portulacaceae
Genus: Portulaca
Species: P. oleracea
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales

Synonyms: Garden Purslane. Pigweed.
Common Name: Green Purslane, Little hogweed ,Common purslane, Verdolaga, Pigweed, Little hogweed, Red root, Pursley, and Moss rose

Parts Used: Herb, juice, seeds.

Habitat:The Purslanes are distributed all over the world. Portulaca oleracea, the Garden, or Green Purslane, is a herbaceous annual, native of many parts of Europe, found in the East and West Indies, China, Japan and Ascension Island, and though found also in the British Isles is not indigenous there.It grows in fields, waste ground, roadside verges, cultivated ground and by the sea

Description:
Portulaca oleracea is an annual succulent plant growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in) at a fast rate.It has smooth, reddish, mostly prostrate stems and alternate leaves clustered at stem joints and ends. The yellow flowers have five regular parts and are up to 6 mm wide. Depending upon rainfall, the flowers appear at anytime during the year. The flowers open singly at the center of the leaf cluster for only a few hours on sunny mornings. Seeds are formed in a tiny pod, which opens when the seeds are mature. Purslane has a taproot with fibrous secondary roots and is able to tolerate poor, compacted soils and drought.The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects, self.The plant is self-fertile. It is frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to September, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September.

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Cultivation:
Requires a moist light rich well-drained soil in a sunny position. Plants will not produce good quality leaves when growing in dry conditions. A perennial plant in warmer climates than Britain, purslane is killed by frost but can be grown as a half-hardy annual in this country. It can become an aggressive weed in areas where the climate suits it. The flowers only open in full sunlight. Purslane is occasionally cultivated for its edible leaves, there are some named varieties. The plants take about six to eight weeks to produce a crop from seed and can then be harvested on a cut and come again principle, providing edible leaves for most of the summer.

Propagation:
Seed – for an early crop, the seed is best sown under protection in early spring and can then be planted out in late spring. Outdoor sowings in situ take place from late spring to late summer, successional sowings being made every two to three weeks if a constant supply of the leaves is required.

Edible Uses :
Edible Parts: Leaves; Seed.

Leaves and stems – raw or cooked. The young leaves are a very acceptable addition to salads, their mucilaginous quality also making them a good substitute for okra as a thickener in soups. Older leaves are used as a potherb. The leaves have a somewhat sour flavour. A spicy and somewhat salty taste. The leaves are a source of omega-3 fatty acids, though seed sources such as walnuts are magnitudes richer. The leaves can be dried for later use. They contain about 1.8% protein, 0.5% fat, 6.5% carbohydrate, 2.2% ash. Another analysis gives the following figures per 100g ZMB. 245 – 296 calories, 17.6 – 34.5g protein, 2.4 – 5.3g fat, 35.5 – 63.2g carbohydrate, 8.5 – 14.6g fibre, 15.9 – 24.7g ash, 898 – 2078mg calcium, 320 – 774mg phosphorus, 11.2 – 46.7mg iron, 55mg sodium, 505 – 3120mg potassium, 10560 – 20000ug B-carotene equivalent, 0.23 – 0.48mg thiamine, 1.12 – 1.6mg riboflavin, 5.58 – 6.72mg niacin and 168 – 333mg ascorbic acid. Seed – raw or cooked. The seed can be ground into a powder and mixed with cereals for use in gruels, bread, pancakes etc. The seed is rather small and fiddly to utilize. In arid areas of Australia the plants grow quite large and can produce 10, 000 seeds per plant, a person can harvest several pounds of seed in a day. The seeding plants are uprooted and placed in a pile on sheets or something similar, in a few days the seeds are shed and can be collected from the sheet. In Britain, however, yields are likely to be very low, especially in cool or wet summers. The seed contains (per 100g ZMB) 21g protein, 18.9g fat 3.4g ash. Fatty acids of the seeds are 10.9% palmitic, 3.7% stearic, 1.3% behenic, 28.7% oleic, 38.9% linoleic and 9.9% linolenic. The ash of burnt plants is used as a salt substitute.

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Constituents:
Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Leaves (Dry weight) 270 Calories per 100g
*Water : 0%
*Protein: 26g; Fat: 4g; Carbohydrate: 50g; Fibre: 11.5g; Ash: 20g;
*Minerals – Calcium: 1500mg; Phosphorus: 550mg; Iron: 29mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 55mg; Potassium: 1800mg; Zinc: 0mg;
*Vitamins – A: 15000mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.35mg; Riboflavin (B2): 1.4mg; Niacin: 6mg; B6: 0mg; C: 250mg;
*Notes: The figures given here are the median of a very wide range quoted in the report.

Medicinal Uses:
Antiscorbutic; Depurative; Diuretic; Febrifuge; Skin; Tonic; Vermifuge.

The plant is antibacterial, antiscorbutic, depurative, diuretic and febrifuge. The leaves are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which is thought to be important in preventing heart attacks and strengthening the immune system. Seed sources such as walnuts, however, are much richer sources. The fresh juice is used in the treatment of strangury, coughs, sores etc. The leaves are poulticed and applied to burns, both they and the plant juice are particularly effective in the treatment of skin diseases and insect stings. A tea made from the leaves is used in the treatment of stomach aches and headaches. The leaf juice is applied to earaches, it is also said to alleviate caterpillar stings. The leaves can be harvested at any time before the plant flowers, they are used fresh or dried. This remedy is not given to pregnant women or to patients with digestive problems. The seeds are tonic and vermifuge. They are prescribed for dyspepsia and opacities of the cornea.

The sticky, broken leaves of fresh purslane sooth burns, stings and swellings.  The juice was once used for treating earaches and to  fasten   teeth and soothe sore gums.  Purslane has been considered valuable in the treatment of urinary and digestive problems.  The diuretic effect of the juice makes it useful in the alleviation of bladder ailments-for example, difficulty in passing urine. The plant’s mucilaginous properties also make it a soothing remedy for gastrointestinal problems such as dysentery and diarrhea.  In Chinese herbal medicine, purslane is employed for similar problems and for appendicitis.  The Chinese also use the plant as an antidote for wasp stings and snake bite.  Clinical trials in China indicate that purslane has a mild antibiotic effect.  In one study, the juice was shown to be effective in treating hookworms.  Other studies suggest that it is valuable against bacillary dysentery.  When injected, extracts of the herb induce powerful contractions of the uterus.  Taken orally, purslane juice weakens uterine contractions.    In Europe it’s been turned into a cough syrup for sore throats.  Purslane is the richest known plant source of Omega-3 acids, found mostly in fish oils.  These fatty acids reduce blood cholesterol and pressure, clotting, and inflammation and may increase immunity.   Recommended medicinal dosage is 15-30 grams.   Use for scours in goats.

Use is contraindicated during pregnancy and for those with cold and weak digestion. Purslane is a clinically effective treatment for oral lichen planus,

Other uses: Portulaca oleracea efficiently removes bisphenol A, an endocrine-disrupting chemical, from a hydroponic solution.

Companion plant: It is used as a companion plant, Purslane provides ground cover to create a humid microclimate for nearby plants, stabilising ground moisture. Its deep roots bring up moisture and nutrients that those plants can use, and some, including corn, will “follow” purslane roots down through harder soil that they cannot penetrate on their own (ecological facilitation). It is known as a beneficial weed in places that do not already grow it as a crop in its own right.

Popular culture:    Purslane also finds mention in a translation of the Bible as a repulsive food. Job’s question in Job 6:6 is translated in the RSV as, “Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt or is there any taste in the slime of the purslane?”
The name verdolaga, associated with the plant that grows in South America is a nickname for Football clubs with green-white schemes in their uniforms, such as Colombia’s Atletico Nacional and Argentina’s Ferrocarril Oeste.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portulaca_oleracea
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/p/prugol77.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Portulaca+oleracea

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_OPQ.htm

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