Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) an annual herb or succulent plant growing to 16 inches in height. It has smooth, reddish, mostly prostrate stems and the leaves, which may be alternate or opposite, are 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 any time 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 small oval green leaves taste similar to spinach and like spinach, are eaten raw, blanched or boiled.
Species: P. oleracea
Scientific Name: Portulaca oleracea
Common Names: Purslane, Verdolaga, Red root, Pursley, Garden purslane, Hogweed and Pigweed.
Manipuri: Leibak kundo
Tamil: Paruppu keerai
Bengali: Nunia sag
How to grow and maintain Purslane (Portulaca oleracea):
It requires full sunlight. They need 6-8 hours of sunlight to grow.
It grows well in a rich, organic, well-drained, fertile soil, to dry, rocky soils. It is drought tolerant.
It thrives best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 18°C – 32°C, but can tolerate 7°C – 36°C
Water the plant just when the top of the soil is dry, as Portulaca is a drought-tolerant plant that flourishes in dry, desert-like soil. Utilize a garden hose or watering can water the soil at the base of the plant because water may damage the blooms. To prevent the plant from rotting, always allow the top of the soil to dry between watering. Portulaca rots in soggy soil.
Fertilize with a balanced slow-release fertilizer with minor elements every 6 months.
It can be easily propagated seeds and cuttings. The tiny seeds are easy to germinate for succession planting every six weeks and continuous salad crops that can be cut back for a second flush of growth.
You can begin to harvest the leaves and tender stem tips, as soon as the plants become big enough to pick leaves.
Pests and Diseases:
It has no serious pest and disease problems. Watch for mealybugs, thrips, mites, and aphids.
Medicinal Benefits of Purslane (Portulaca oleracea):
- Purslane has been used medicinally for thousands of years.
- Purslane has 5 times higher Omega-3 fatty acids than Spinach, 7 times higher alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin E) than Spinach, and a higher amount of Vitamin C and beta-carotene than Spinach.
- It helps in curing skin diseases & gastrointestinal Complications
- It contains bone-strengthening minerals.
- The leaf juice is applied to earaches, it is also said to alleviate caterpillar stings.
- The leaves are poulticed and applied to burns.
- 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.
- The plant is antibacterial, antiscorbutic, depurative, diuretic and febrifuge.
- The fresh juice is used in the treatment of strangury, coughs, sores etc.
- A tea made from the leaves is used in the treatment of stomach aches and headaches.
- Aqueous extracts of the plant have shown muscle-relaxing effects and Ethanolic extracts showed significant analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.
- A crude extract of the plant has been shown to accelerate wound healing when applied topically.
- An ethanolic extract showed antifungal activity against Trichophyton dermatophytes.
- Extracts of the plant have shown antityrosinase activity and are being tested for their skin-whitening activity.
Purslane can be eaten raw or cooked. It has a flavor similar to spinach or watercress.