All About Purslane

5 from 9 votes
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Wild purslane growing in my garden.
Photo by Hank Shaw

If there is a more misunderstood garden weed than purslane, I don’t know what it is.

Loved in some cultures, reviled in others, this prolific, tasty, easy-to-grow succulent really ought to be welcomed in your yard, not sprayed with Roundup. Read on and I will give you some ideas on what to do with purslane, and how to grow and harvest it.

Let’s start by explaining what is purslane? Primarily we are talking about Portulaca oleracea, a low-growing, succulent annual native to… well, that is not entirely clear. Purslane grows all over the world, and there is ample evidence that native groups here in America were enjoying it long before Columbus showed up.

There are a number of purslane cousins, all in the portulaca genus.

Purslane grows in every state of both the United States and Mexico, as well as every Canadian province that borders the US. Across the rest of the world, it generally likes warmer places, but a cultivated variety that has gone native in my yard is from seed from Germany, of all places.

Domestic variety of purslane in the garden.
Photo by Hank Shaw

Basically every culture that has a system of writing has been writing about eating this common weed as long as they’ve had writing. And those cultures with no written language have passed on the knowledge for millennia. Most every native group had a use for purslane, either as a green thing in the pot, a salad herb or as medicine.

Pliny the Elder, whom most people know of more as a beer than as a 2000-year-old Roman philosopher, wrote highly of purslane, as did the Greek Theophrastus, a protege of Aristotle.

So how did this common edible plant, much like it’s friend lambsquarters, become so hated in modern America?

Probably because a) many people forgot that it tasted better than most of the other vegetables alongside it, and b) purslane can indeed take over a garden. The plant sets seeds fairly quickly (they’re edible, by the way), and they remain viable for up to 40 years. Yeah, you read that right.

New plants take only about a week to pop up from seed in the summer, and this is a good time to reiterate that purslane is a warm weather vegetable. It hates the cold, even the cool weather we get here in Sacramento during winter.

It is a fantastic companion plant in your garden, by the way, because it basically becomes a living mulch, keeping soil moist between waterings. And in our Sacramento summers, we can have three rounds of it growing each gardening season.

A plate of purslane salad with cucumbers and tomatoes.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Eating purslane is pretty much a matter of picking it and tossing it in a bowl, ideally with some salad fixin’s. You can certainly cook it, and there are many great Mexican recipes for verdolagas, usually with pork and salsa verde.

What does purslane taste like? It’s crunchy, juicy — haters say slimy, but it is absolutely nothing like okra or nopales — and tart. The plant does contain a little oxalic acid in it, same as sorrel and rhubarb. So along those lines, if you have kidney stones, you might want to skip eating purslane.

If you do cook purslane, don’t do it for long. You want them to hold their texture, so only 5 minutes or so.

puerco con verdolagas
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

The weed does seem to be having a moment these days, however. I have seen it sold in farmer’s markets for insane prices — $7 a pound?!?! And you can actually buy purslane supplements, mostly as a source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids.

It is true that purslane is very good for you. A typical serving has 20 calories, a little protein, and lots of vitamins: It’s incredibly rich in Vitamin E and will add on about 25 percent of your daily Vitamin C needs. It also contains significant amounts of iron, magnesium, manganese and potassium.

This 2014 study basically lays out purslane as a superfood.

Interesting side note: The plant appears to be toxic to cats, although our outdoor cat has never so much as noticed it, let alone eaten any.

As I mentioned, I mostly eat purslane in crunchy salad; my recipe is below. But I also love eating it pickled as a topping for tacos or along with charcuterie.

purslane salad recipe
5 from 9 votes

Purslane Salad

This is a pretty common salad you will see all over the Mediterranean. It's a crunchy, refreshing and simply the best thing you can do with purslane.
Course: Appetizer, Salad
Cuisine: Greek
Servings: 4 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes


  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • Salt
  • 1 red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 4 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 to 1 pound purslane, leaves and tender stems
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled


  • Mix the red onion with the vinegar and a hefty pinch of salt in a large bowl. Let this sit for 15 minutes while you cut the other ingredients.
  • Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and toss to combine.


Calories: 166kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 157mg | Potassium: 605mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 5927IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 133mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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  1. I wish purslane grew well in my area, piedmont region North Carolina. There’s some little bug that mines the stems and leaves and kills the plant. I never get enough to eat. Only reason there is any here is because I keep throwing seeds down. Gardening is really tough here as anything planted gets attacked by something. The worst pest I have to deal with is non-migratory Canada Geese. Since I live in city limits, I can’t shoot them.

    1. Sprinkle food grade diatomaceous earth on your purslane and anything else you want to keep bugs off of. It is safe for humans and pets. Just don’t breath it in. It is silica and will irritate your lungs.

  2. This purslane salad is great! My purslane is just perfect these days—new and succulent. Made this salad yesterday and it was a big hit with the family. I went our first thing this morning and picked some more. This salad is bumping cole slaw off the Fourth of July menu. A big THANK YOU for this recipe.

  3. I have always eaten purslane, having been introduced to eating both the leaves and the seeds as a child in Ireland long before we came to Australia. The plant is indeed truly cosmopolitan! I think it must have always been in Australia, because some of the earliest settlers talk about being surprised that the Aboriginal people ate the seeds of the plant but rarely if ever ate the leaves, which was what the Europeans more commonly ate, though in Europe the seeds were used in some kinds of pottage or stew.
    It comes up as a weed in gravelly parts of my garden, and I mostly use it in stirfry or salad. While I don’t sell it at our Farmers Market, since my garden only produces enough of it for my own household, one of the other vendors collects bunches of it to sell, from where it grows in the gravel under the benches of the greenhouses where he grows his basil crops in winter. It also grows outdoors in his cabbage patches, and in his bean fields in the Summer. Sabri, the aforesaid vendor, is an elderly Turkish man who migrated here to South Australia after the Second World War and who spent his childhood there on a subsistence farm, so he knew about eating purslane. I know purslane is also eaten in South Africa, as is its relative Spekboom (the plant you eat with fat pork), Portulacaria afra, which is also grown as a garden plant, and as stock feed in arid areas. That one is used in salads but I think tastes nicer lightly cooked.

  4. Purslane is a reliable nurturing friend in my garden, trying it as a salad tastes great thank you for your insight, I am really enjoying the taste, thanks again

  5. Thanks Hank for this detailed info on purslane. It grows abundantly in Kenya. I used to weed it out till last year when my niece visited and was excited to see it. She told me about it. She cooked it and I loved it am now addicted to it
    Will try recipes given here

  6. Hi! A couple of comments on your excellent article and all the great comments: purslane is also very widely used in the middle east as a main raw ingredient in fattoush (salad); and as to why it miraculously reappears in the garden after pulling….it can reproduce vegetatively, meaning that if a leaf (even the tiniest) is dropped on the soil while harvesting, a new plant will sprout from it. Same goes for the roots.

  7. You mention pickling it as a garnish. Do you do it as a vinegar pickle or a fermented pickle?

  8. I have purslane popping up all over my rock covered yard. It started suddenly about 5 years ago. I thought it was a weed. I pulled them like a mad woman the 1st and 2nd year. The 3rd year a friend told me it was eatable. I didnt care, it was taking over my yard doggonit! Then my husband sprayed it with round up the 4th year to prevent me from going crazy. Enter the 5th year. I’ve given up. I’m letting them grow where they want. The dogs ignore them. There are smaller looking spiny succulent. Looks kinda similar, but I don’t think it’s the same thing. Not sure. Wish I could post a photo so you can see what I mean.
    Now I’m looking up recipes, and that’s where I found you…

    1. Please do your research. The other look-alike could be a Spurge, which is poisonous. How you can tell is to break a stem (use gloves to check). If white sap comes from a stem, its Spurge and poisonous. Purslane does not have sap and their leaves are hardy not flat-thin like on a Spurge.

  9. Hi, if verdolaga started producing it’s little tiny flowers, is it still edible?
    Thank you.

  10. I grew up eating purselane (in Spanish “verdolagas”) with pork in salsa verde. Delicious! Finally found a vendor at the farmer’s market that brings it during the summer. My mom has requested sees for her garden. Thanks Hanks!

  11. Is ornamental purslane also edible? I believe the scientific name is the same for both common & ornamental purslane.

      1. Christine: Not in most places in this country. In most places, pigweed is amaranth.

      1. After “googling” Pig Weed I found out they are nothing alike. My dad probably called it that because the pigs liked it.

    1. Eugenia: Do you see sedum in garden beds? Because that is where 99% of people encounter purslane. And can you point me to a species of sedum that looks like purslane? The only ones I am aware of don’t look like it, but I am not an expert on sedums.

  12. Just wondering if there are any lookalikes that i wouldn’t want to consume, and can i find purslane in North central minnesota? Always look forward to your posts and learning more foraging knowledge from reliable sources like yourself. Thanks!

    1. Harley: Yes, it lives in Minnesota, and as for look alikes, not really, but there is one “look sorta kinda similar,” which would be a plant called spurge. They grow in the same manner and often near each other, but spurge is thin and flat with teeny delicate leaves, while purslane is a succulent.

      1. Spurge is toxic, leaves grow opposite each other along the stem in pairs unlike purslane and the easiest distinguisher is the milk white sap that shows from a stem break on spurge. Purslane has no white sap!
        Both plants often grow together in the wild.

    2. We live in north central MN & there is purslane all over our area. If you ever find some, take home some seeds from it & you can start your own supply. It is a tasty snack when I’m out in the garden or in the field & wood edge areas.I think it is pretty as well. Enjoy!

  13. My mother would weed her garden and bring her greenery down to the Boulder Farmers’ Market along with all her cut herbs and herb vinegars. Lamb’s Quarters, Orrach and Purslane. She had about a half bushel of Purslane and an old Italian lady wanted it. My mother said, take it, but she insisted on paying and my mother asked her what it was used for. A thickener in soups. She brought her weeding down every week after that and it all sold. I’ve used it as a thickener when I didn’t want any flour or corn starch. Works well and tastes good.

  14. I work at a farm in Vancouver that specializes in a fancy salad mix that we sell mostly to mid to high-end restaurants for big bucks. Purslane is an abundant weed in our field and we include it in our salad mix and sell it as a separate item. I love it raw, in chile verde, lightly sauteed, and dropped into a bowl of hot soup. I bet it could be awesome in a green gazpacho! Has anyone tried pickling or lactofermenting it?

      1. I’ve tried it lactofermented and I didn’t care for it. Purslane crouted gets slimy and the flavors are not what I look for in fermented veg. which surprised me. I thought with the sharp lemony flavor of the fresh plant it would complement the flavors of kraut, but alas. There are only a few krauted veggies I don’t like.

        I will try them pickled! And sautéed and frozen!

    1. I have tried to add a little branch of purslane 12 h after water kefir is fermenting. In 6 h it starts to develop an apple aroma…

  15. Dear Hank thanks for your always excellent observations and posts.

    When you say 3 crops of your purslane do you mean cutting it three times and it’s returning, or do you mean using seeds from first crop to make a second and then 3rd one- ? thanks.

    Ps – it’s true as someone suggested, that purslane shouldn’t probably be trusted from *anywhere*, as they are nutrient and metal accumulators…but in garden places that shouldn’t be a worry.

      1. People should be aware that the Omega 3 fatty acids from plant sources are not the same as those from animal sources. Algae is the exception. (Yes, some scientists are now considering algae to be a separate from other plants, but they make food from sunlight and do not move as animals do…)

        The form of Omega 3s in plants are not the correct form to fill human dietary needs, (EPA and DHA) and the human body can transform only a small fraction of the plant-source Omega 3s into the correct form. Therefore, relying on plants for Omega 3s is likely to lead to a deficiency in these nutrients key to brain health, among other functions.

        ‘The Brain Needs Animal Fat’ – Psychology Today – Dr. G. Ede

        For a deeper discussion of the vital importance of fat in the human diet:

        Fortunately, animals also enjoy purslane (and flax) – chickens, ducks, geese, swine, and sheep, goats, and cattle all readily eat purslane. 100% ‘grassfed’ beef, goat, and lamb are all good sources of EPA and DHA, as are fish or shellfish (krill) that have eaten algae. (Not farmed fish.)

      2. Supplements are widely available these days made directly from algae-type substances which provide EPA and DHA. So those on plant-based diets can go directly to the source.