Now that I got your attention, it’s not what you might think but it’s a wild edible that you should check out.  The one above is in the middle of my garden walkway.

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is a weed that grows in gardens and waste places.  Once you know what it is you will see it all sorts of places (Stuck in the sidewalk in front of Kroger, in my vegetable garden, everywhere!).  The stems are reddish with green rounded  leaves scattered along.  The leaves cluster at the ends of the branches (the leaves at the end are the most tender and great as a salad green!).  It has small 1/4″ wide yellow flowers growing singly in the clusters which only open briefly in the morning.

You can eat the stems, leaves, and flower buds!  They taste like a romaine lettuce to me.  Pleasant and green.  No bitter taste here!  You can use them in any recipe that you might use spinach.  Or even stir fry them.  I like it mixed in with quinoa, pine nuts, and dried cranberries.  The colors and textures make a wonderful cold or room temperature salad!

Why should you eat this particular weed?  For the Omega 3-fatty acids that it contains.  It has more than any other leafy vegetable.  It has an extraordinary amount of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid, and omega 3-fatty acid)  which is normally found in fish, some algae and flax seeds for a land based plant.  It has vitamins A, C, B and carotenoids, as well as nutrients of magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iron!  Wild foods for the most part have more vitamins and nutrients than their grocery store cousins.

Wild plants grow where the perfect conditions exist.  If the conditions are right and the seeds make their way to the area via wind, water, animal, or expulsion then they will grow.  No forcing them to grow in inadequate areas and supplementing what they lack (water, fertilizer etc.).  You don’t have to protect them either because they are vulnerable and stressed (pesticides).

They commonly grow next to Spotted Spurge (Euphorbia maculata) which is a similar looking weed but poisonous!  You can see it towards the bottom, middle of  the photo.  The leaves have spots on them so keep that in mind.  It is easy to accidentally grab some when harvesting Purslane.  Be carefull!  Please do not eat anything that you are unfamiliar with.  Consult with your local wild foods expert before you try anything.

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