Also known as Verdolaga or Pigweed, Purslane has a slightly sour and salty taste and is eaten throughout much of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Mexico. The stems, leaves and flower buds are all edible. Purslane may be used fresh as a salad, stir-fried, or cooked as spinach is, and is also suitable for soups and stews. Australian Aborigines use the seeds to make seedcakes. Purslane contains more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plant. One of the joys of joining a CSA is trying new vegetables; I had never seen or heard of Purslane before last year’s CSA and it is now one of my favorite vegetables.
Its leaves are used for natural healing, such as for insect or snake bites on the skin, pain from bee stings, and intestinal bleeding. As a companion plant, Purslane provides ground cover to create a humid microclimate for nearby plants, stabilizing ground moisture. Its deep roots bring up moisture and nutrients that those plants can use, and some, including corn, will “follow” purslane roots down through harder soil that they cannot penetrate on their own.