Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Portulaca oleracea - Common purslane

Family: Portulacaceae [E-flora]

"Portulaca oleracea is a ANNUAL growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in) at a fast rate.
It is frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to September, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects, self.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil." [PFAF]

"Purslane appears in late spring and dies in the fall. If the seeds don't germinate, or the competi- tion is too stiff, it doesn't come back. I've scheduled many field walks in parks where purslane was su- perabundant the previous year, only to find none whatsoever." [Wildman]

"General: Annual succulent herb from a taproot; stems usually prostrate, several, freely branched, 10-30 cm long." [IFBC-E-flora]

"Habitat / Range Fields and waste places; infrequent in S BC; introduced from Eurasia." [IFBC-E-flora] "Waste places, fields, gardens, often as a weed but sometimes well away from cultivated areas. Widespread in the United States and in the Rocky Mountain area at low to medium elevations." [Harrington]

"Originating in India or Persia, purslane has established itself around the world. In America it has found a congenial home, being found from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from far up in Canada to Tierra del Fuego. Between Canada and Mexico, I doubt that there is a single township where this esculent herb could not be found." [SWA]

"A weed of landscapes. thin or newly seeded turfgrass. and nursery. vegetable, fruit. and agronomic crops, common purslane is found in most cultivated crops. home gardens. and annual flower beds. It is also a weed of crevices between bricks and in cracked cement. Common purslane thrives on nutrient-rich. sandy soils but tolerates poor, compacted soils and drought. It prefers areas of high light and warm growing conditions. " [WeedsNE]

Status: Exotic [E-flora]


Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses


Nematicidal activity; Aqueous leaf and stem extracts - Toxicity to M. incognita - Hoan and Davide ( 1979 ) [Singh APB]

Nutritional Information

"Dried purslane has been found to be about 30 percent protein and 35 percent carbohydrates. One hundred grams of purslane contains 2,500 international units of vitamin A when cooked; .10 milligrams of riboflavin raw and .06 cooked; 103 milligrams of calcium raw and 86 cooked; 25 mil- ligrams of vitamin C raw and 12 milligrams cooked; 21 calories; and small amounts of phosphorus, niacin, and thiamine." [Nyerges]

"Portulaca oleracea L. Fresh weight basis: Moisture content 92.77 %, dry matter contents 7.235 %. Dry weight basis: Carbohydrates 29.84 %, crude proteins 33.27 %, crude fats 4.171 %, crude fibers 7.602 %, ash contents 5.215 %, Energy value was at 290.0 Kcal/100 g." [Abbasi WEVLH]

"The seed contains (per 100g ZMB) 21g protein, 18.9g fat 3.4g ash[218]. 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[218]." [PFAF]


Omega-3 Fatty acids: "In 1986, purslane was identified as being the richest leafy-plant source of omega-3 fatty acids, a sub stance that helps reduce the body's cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of heart attack. This dis- covery was made by Norman Salem, Jr., a lipid biochemist with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in Bethesda, Maryland." [Nyerges] 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[238]. Seed sources such as walnuts, however, are much richer sources[222]." [PFAF]

Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food. Leaves (Dry weight)

"They contain about 1.8% protein, 0.5% fat, 6.5% carbohydrate, 2.2% ash[179]. 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[218]." [PFAF]

Common Purslane – Portulaca oleracea [218][PFAF]

Part: Leaves Per 100 g Dry weight
Food Energy (Kcal) 270 Ash (g) 20 [218]/(2.2%)[179] Potassium (mg) 1800
Water (g) 0 Thiamine (mg) 0.35 Magnesium (mg) 0
Protein (g) 26 [218]/(1.8%)[179] Riboflavin (mg) 1.4 Calcium (mg) 1500
Fat (g) 4 [218]/(0.5%)[179] Niacin (mg) 6 Phosphorus (mg) 550
Carbohydrate (g) 50 [218]/(6.5%)[179] Vitamin C (mg) 250 Sodium (mg) 55
Fiber (g) 11.5 Vitamin A (Mg) 15000 Iron (mg) 29
Zinc (mg) 0 Manganese (mg) - Copper (mg) -

Portulaca_FoodUse.JPG [EMNMPV.9]

Propagation & Cultivation

"Seed - for an early crop, the seed is best sown under protection in early spring and can then be planted out in late spring[4]. 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[4]." [PFAF]

"Requires a moist light rich well-drained soil in a sunny position[4, 37, 200]. Plants will not produce good quality leaves when growing in dry conditions[4]. 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[1]. It can become an aggressive weed in areas where the climate suits it[274]. The flowers only open in full sunlight[244]. Purslane is occasionally cultivated for its edible leaves, there are some named varieties[183]. 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[4]." [PFAF]


"Halophyte species (Atriplex spp., Suaeda spp., Salsola spp., Chenopodium spp., Portulaca spp.) could uptake the salt ions through their roots and metabolize or store in leaves (McKell 1994; Grieve and Suarez 1997). Therefore, they have potential to desalinize the salt-affected areas. Due to their biology and physiology, they could possibly be used as companion plants with crop plants. According to Qadir et al. (2002) phytoremediation has two main advantages for the farmers: Firstly, no fnancial outlay to purchase chemical amendments, and secondly, financial or other benefits from the crops grown during the amelioration process." [Ashraf PAP]

"The salt uptake and accumulation performed by the halophytes can reduce the severity of the stress at a rhizospheric level, providing better conditions for the growth of the agricultural species and, in conclusion, better yields (Zuccarini 2008). He also concluded that consociation with Portulaca oleracea gave the best results in terms of increase of tomato growth and yields." [Ashraf PAP]

"Kilic et al. [63] investigated the salt-removing capacity of purslane (Portulaca oleracea L.) by studying different stress criteria and by tracking its salt removal from germination to harvest. The results of their study showed that purslane could cumulatively remove considerable amounts of salt from the soil if practical to cultivate as an intercrop all year round." [Pessarakli HPCS]

"According to Zurayk et al. (2001), combined effect of salinity and Cr(VI) caused a significant decrease in the dry biomass accumulation of Portulaca oleracea." [Ashraf PAP]

Plant Germination/Growth Inhibition: "Water extract of sugar beet exhibited allelopathic effect on purslane, Portulaca oleracea (Dadkhah 2013 ). The extract did not inhibit germination but strongly reduced seed vigour and seedling growth (shoot length, root length and leaf area) of purslane." [EMNMPV.10]

Animal Feed: "Interestingly, rather than suggest that people include purslane in their diets, Salem and his collaborator, Artemi Simopoclos (of the American Association for World Health in Washington, D.C.), studied range-fed chickens that fed on wild purslane. The yolk from one large-sized egg from a purslane-fed chicken contained about 300 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids (17.87 milligrams per gram), the same amount contained in a standard fish oil capscle and 10 times more than what is found in a typical supermarket egg (1.74 milligrams per gram). Salem and Simopoclos's findings about the eggs were published in the November 16, 1989 New England Journal of Medicine." [Nyerges]


Portulaca Sp.

Local Species;

  1. Portulaca oleracea - common purslane [E-flora]

Use of Related Sp.

"A closely related species, Portulaca retusa grows in the southern part of our area, from Texas to Arizona, extending north to south- ern Utah and possibly southern Colorado. It has been utilized in the same way as our species in the area where it grows, especially by the Indians. (Fewkes, 85; Uphof, 240; Elmore, 83; Robbins et aI., 195)." [Harrington]

"Portulaca quadrifida L. Fresh weight basis: Moisture content 88.31 %, dry matter contents 11.69 %. Dry weight basis: Carbohydrates 28.38 %, crude proteins 28.94 %, crude fats 4.080 %, crude fibers 13.44 %, ash content 25.16 %, Energy 266.0 Kcal/100 g." [Abbasi WEVLH]

Portulaca quadrifida "Part used: Leaves, aerial parts Distribution: World: India, Tropical Africa, Asia. Pakistan: Hazara, Swat, Murree, Kashmir, Punjab, Karachi. Ethnobotanical uses: Young leaves cooked in water as vegetable. Aerial parts are used as fodder. Medicinal uses: Fresh leaves are slightly wormed and applied topically on swelling joints." [Abbasi WEVLH]

Page last modified on Monday, June 12, 2023 8:32 PM