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Common Purslane

Portulaca oleracea

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Portulacaceae (Purslane)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
40 centimetres tall
Fields, roadsides, seaside, wasteland.

Yellow, 5 petals
Yellow, 5-petalled flowers. The petals are notched at the ends. Flowers can appear all year round but are most common in mid-to-late summer. Pollinated by insects.
The fruit is a pod which produces tiny, dark brown or blackish seeds. The seeds mature from July to September.
An annual, erect or sprawling plant with slightly succulent, spoon-shaped leaves. The leaves are in opposite pairs (but sometimes alternate) along the stems. The stems are smooth and reddish.
Other Names:
Duckweed, Garden Purslane, Green Purslane, Little Hogweed, Moss Rose, Pigwee, Pigweed, Portulaca, Purslane, Pursley, Pusley, Red Root, Rock Moss, Wild Portulaca.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Portulaca oleracea, commonly known as common purslane or pigweed, is a species of flowering plant in the family Portulacaceae. It is native to Europe and Asia, but it is also found in other parts of the world as a naturalized and sometimes invasive species. The plant is known for its small, yellow or pink flowers that bloom in the summer and its fleshy, succulent leaves and stems that are edible and high in vitamins and minerals, particularly high in omega-3 fatty acids. The plant forms a low growing rosette of leaves that can reach up to 40cm tall and wide, it can grow as an annual or perennial depending on the location. It is considered as a hardy and versatile plant, it can tolerate a wide range of soils and conditions, and it is tolerant of drought and salt. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It is also used as an ornamental plant, as a source of food for wild animals, and it is also used in traditional medicine.


Common Purslane, also known as Portulaca oleracea, is a succulent plant that is widely distributed around the world. It is an annual plant that grows in warm, temperate, and tropical climates. Purslane is a versatile plant that has been used in traditional medicine and as a food source for centuries.

In terms of appearance, Purslane is a low-growing, spreading plant that can reach up to 40 cm in height. Its leaves are thick and fleshy, and they can be either green or reddish in color. The plant produces small, yellow flowers that bloom in the summer and fall, and it has a shallow root system.

Purslane is known for its high nutritional value. It is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A and C, and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium. It also contains antioxidants that help protect the body against oxidative stress and inflammation.

One of the unique features of Purslane is its mucilaginous texture. This slimy substance can be off-putting to some people, but it has been used in traditional medicine to soothe digestive issues and to help with wound healing. Purslane has also been shown to have antibacterial and antifungal properties.

In terms of culinary uses, Purslane is a versatile plant that can be eaten raw or cooked. Its leaves and stems can be used in salads, soups, stews, and stir-fries. In some cultures, the plant is pickled or fermented to make a condiment that can be used as a topping or a side dish. Purslane has a tangy, slightly sour flavor that can add a refreshing twist to any dish.

Despite its many benefits, Purslane is often considered a weed and is not cultivated on a large scale. However, it is a hardy plant that can grow in poor soil conditions, making it an ideal candidate for sustainable agriculture. Purslane has also been studied for its potential use as a feedstock for biofuels and as a plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Despite its many benefits, Purslane has been considered a problematic weed in some regions, as it can grow and spread rapidly, competing with other crops for resources. However, this plant has also been studied for its potential as a natural insect repellent and for its ability to attract beneficial insects such as bees and butterflies, making it a valuable addition to any garden or farm.

In some cultures, Purslane has also been used for its cultural and historical significance. For example, in Greek mythology, Purslane was associated with the goddess of love, Aphrodite, and was believed to have aphrodisiac properties. In some regions of Mexico, Purslane is traditionally eaten on the Day of the Dead as a symbol of life and regeneration.

While Purslane is generally safe to consume, it should be noted that it may interact with certain medications, and pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult with a healthcare provider before consuming large amounts of the plant.

In recent years, Purslane has gained popularity in the culinary world, with chefs and foodies alike experimenting with new ways to use this nutritious and versatile plant. Purslane can be found at some farmers' markets and specialty stores, but it is still not widely available in many regions.

One interesting fact about Purslane is that it is a C4 plant, which means that it is able to use carbon dioxide more efficiently than most other plants. This makes it a valuable plant for carbon sequestration and for mitigating the effects of climate change. Purslane has also been studied for its potential use in phytoremediation, which is the process of using plants to clean up contaminated soil.

Purslane has been used for medicinal purposes in various cultures for centuries. In traditional Chinese medicine, Purslane has been used to treat conditions such as diarrhea, dysentery, and hemorrhoids. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is used to treat inflammation, digestive issues, and skin conditions.

Purslane is also a popular ingredient in traditional Mexican cuisine. It is used in dishes such as tacos, soups, and stews, and is often paired with other traditional Mexican ingredients such as tomatoes, chiles, and cilantro.

In addition to its culinary uses, Purslane has been studied for its potential health benefits. It has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Purslane has also been studied for its potential to improve insulin sensitivity and to lower cholesterol levels.

Purslane is a plant that is easy to grow and requires little maintenance. It can grow in a variety of soil types and does not require much water, making it an ideal crop for arid regions. Purslane seeds can be sown directly into the soil or started indoors and transplanted outdoors once the weather warms up.

In addition to its nutritional and medicinal benefits, Purslane has also been studied for its potential as a natural dye. Its red stems and leaves can be used to produce a vibrant pink or red dye that can be used to color fabric or other materials.

Interestingly, Purslane has also been studied for its potential use as a natural sunscreen. It contains compounds that have been shown to have UV-absorbing properties, making it a possible alternative to chemical sunscreens.

While Purslane may not be as well-known as other plants, it is a versatile and resilient crop that has many potential benefits. Whether used in traditional medicine, as a nutritious food source, or as a sustainable crop for farming, Purslane is a plant that is worth exploring further.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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