A few days ago I planned to take a few pictures of purslane, a common annual plant that I allow to grow in the pots in which I grow a few vegetables, but forgot that the flowers are open only a few hours early in the morning, and had to try again the following day just after sunrise.
Purslane is common in well-watered fields. It has succulent leaves and from late spring to early autumn small yellow flowers.
It is native to most of Central and Southern Europe, as well as parts of North Africa, Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent and Australasia. In Maltese it is known as burdlieqa. Purslane is considered as a weed with those attempting to remove it little realising that it can be very useful as a medicinal plant and as a vegetable.
All the aerial parts, including the stems, leaves and flowers are edible. When fresh it can be used in salads, stir-fried or cooked in boiling water. It can also be used with other vegetables in soups to add taste and texture.
Purslane is very rich in omega-3-fatty acids and vitamins especially A and C as well as some vitamin B. It is also a rich source of minerals and antioxidants although it also contains oxalate, a compound linked to the formation of kidney stones and therefore should be avoided by anybody susceptible to this condition.
Purslane was used in ancient Rome as a cure for headaches, stomach aches and other intestinal problems. It is also very popular in Chinese traditional medicine to treat urinary and digestive problems as well as for appendicitis.
Purslane is considered as a useful companion plant as it helps to reduce evaporation from the soil and prevents the soil from drying up too fast. (This article was published in The Times on 29.08.2012)