By Penelope A. Domogo, MD
The common purslane (Portulaca oleracea) (dupduppil- Kankanaey; gulasiman – Tagalog) is an annual, succulent trailing plant found in tropical and warm temperate regions. It has small yellow flowers. It is a social plant, like dandelion, as they thrive in and near communities, not in the forest. It is a popular food for pigs, though, thus it is also called pigweed, hogweed, duckweed. One time, I was surprised to see a woman getting some greens in the rectory garden- dupduppil for her pigs. But it is more than hog-feed. Purslane is edible and is a popular vegetable and medicinal herb in other countries like China, Mexico and Greece. It is a cooling herb and thus may help in fevers and inflammatory conditions.
It is rich in vitamins A, C and E and omega-3 fatty acids. “Purslane contains the highest content of vitamin A among green leafy vegetables…. It also contains vitamin C and B-complex vitamins…. provides an excellent source of the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids without the cholesterol of fish oils… ” ( Md. Kamal Uddin et.al. Purslane Weed (Portulaca Oleracea): A Prospective Plant Source of Nutrition, Omega-3 Fatty Acid and Antioxidant Attributes, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc 2014).
Vitamins A, C & E are powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants strengthen the immune system and may protect the body against heart disease, cancer and other modern-day diseases. Omega-3 fatty acids may lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
From the book Common Medicinal Plants in the Cordillera by Leonard Co, I selected some more uses of purslane:
1. Bacillary dysentery and gastroenteritis – decoction of the fresh plant
2. Various skin infections – as poultice or decoction of the fresh plant used as a warm bath or compress.
Aside from its medicinal uses, purslane can be eaten raw or cooked – salads, soups, ginisa, stews. It has a lemony taste. Let me share two recipes I found in internet.
Greek-style purslane pesto
Ingredients: 1 cup purslane leaves
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
2 spoons lemon juice
Salt to taste
1 large handful of roasted pine nuts
Directions: Combine all ingredients except feta and nuts and half olive oil and blend. Add pine nuts, feta and remaining oil slowly checking for consistency you prefer. Makes about 1 cup pesto- eaten fresh or preserved in refrigerator for 3-4 days or frozen for later use.
Purslane with tomato Ingredients:
1 bunch or 1 pound purslane, washed and chopped 1” pieces
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tomatoes grated or finely diced
¼ cup rice (soaked in hot water for 15-20 minutes)
2-3 tablespoons olive oiSalt, black pepper to taste
1 cup hot water
Directions: Heat olive oil and sauté onions. Add all other ingredients except water. Stir for two minutes. Our in water then cook on low covered until rice is cooked 15-20 minutes. Serve warm or cold.
We have now many ornamental varieties of purslane like the wingpod purslane or purslane umbraticola (those with bigger colorful flowers) which I have read are also edible. Our pigs love them. Careful though with moss rose or portulaca grandiflora as this is not edible. Moss rose has needle-shaped fat succulent leaves unlike the flat fat leaves of purslane. I know moss rose as Vietnam rose.***
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.” Genesis 1:29••