Creeping Summer Weeds–Purslane

If this weed (it’s the one with the reddish stems if you’re having trouble distinguishing what’s what in the photo) looks a bit familiar to you, that’s because it’s related to a cultivated garden annual–portulaca or moss rose.

The seed companies also sell “souped up” varieties of this plant to eat as a salad green because it is full of nutritional goodness–vitamins C, A and E among other things.  It is also reputed to be very high in omega 3 fatty acids.  That would be one reason to grow cultivated varieties of this plant.

This link will get you to a page in the Johnny’s Select Seeds online catalog and to a variety of “purslane” called Goldberg Golden.  You can buy a small quantity of seed that will so a row 15′ long or larger quantities (I can’t imagine why–as anyone who’s ever grown portulaca knows, once you have it, you have it forever–put then again, maybe with the eating variety, you don’t let it flower).

Any of the other good seed houses are likely to have it as well.  I like Johnny’s because they’re from Maine and I know if they can grow it in Maine I can grow it in Connecticut!

Another is that it is high in iron and other dietary minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium.  It is used in cooking all over the world and even has uses in traditional chinese medicine according to Wikipedia (since I know a bit about herbs but not so much about TCM).

But you don’t want it getting out of control in the garden.  As the photo shows, it can be quite vigorous. Here’s another look at it once I pulled it (because yes, once again these are my weeds).

Those little buds will become little yellow flowers, and then, little blacks seeds–10 or more per seed pod.  you can see that in the Wikipedia article too if you’re interested.  Needless to say, I try to get mine out before they flower.

They do tend to have a bit of a tap root too–nothing like a dandelion but somewhat difficult to remove especially if the ground is dry.

I don’t grow cultivated purslane as a salad green although I have been known to grow the annual portulaca in planters now and again.  When I do grow the annual, I tend to get the one with double flowers.  Its foliage is needle-like so it doesn’t look as much like this weed.  It’s sort of like me and oxalis–I just can’t grow those pretty ornamental ones–to me they all look like weeds!

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