If you are looking for ground cover, low growing plants, check out portulaca and purslane genus of the Portulacaceae family. I recently bought moss roses and a Mojave Mix with multi-colored trailing stems abundant with pink, orange, yellow blooms from this family.
Portulaca and purslane thrive in our heat, and look great in rock gardens, in hanging arrangements and in the flower beds. They’re drought tolerant and, fortunately, not choosey about soil. Both are typical succulents that absorb moisture in tubular stems, leaves with fleshy rounded leaves and blooms that fold at night and awaken with the sun. Some portulaca and purslane will bloom all summer, such as the moss rose; however, my ice plant (portulaca) has bountiful, wonderful blooms in the spring and then will grace the flower bed with interesting green, pointed leaves until spring arrives again.
It was the plump reddish stems and spatula shaped leaves that drew my attention to the similarities between my plants and a prolific weed in our garden. Hmmmm.
The weed that grows so easily in our garden space is the Common Purslane. Also known as hogweed, pigweed, and fatweed. As I mentioned our purslane has plump stems radiating from the center with padded leaves and small yellow blooms in the spring.
Oddly, despite its reputation as a noxious weed, it has been dubbed a “superfood” (Chicago Tribune, August 11, 2010). Healthline calls purslane a “nutritious vegetable.” This nutritious, palatable weed can be used in sauces, salads and soups. All parts of the purslane are edible except the taproot.
Superfood purslane is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, beta carotene and high in many other vitamins and minerals. In addition to heart health, some studies suggest this “weed” may with benefit mood disorders, immune system, blood pressure and many more ailments. Deserving of more research.
Of course, you want to be careful to collect purslane in pet free and pesticide/ herbicide free areas. Don’t feed the purslane food to the canines or felines. It is poisonous for them. Go figure.
Hints of purslane have been around for centuries. In some Bible translations there is mention of purslane in the Book of Job, and in the fourth century, purslane was one herb that was recommended to plant in April. Although purslane originated in India, people in Italy, Crete and Uzbekistan have long eaten this annual weed. Our first president’s wife, Martha Washington, had a recipe for “pickled purslane” in her family recipes, and supposedly, it was a favorite food of Gandhi.
I would love to be brave enough to experiment by tasting the purslane, but I think I will just relay what some sources say. “Don’t cook it too long as it will get slimy!” “Tart, sweet, sour, lemony, salty, crisp, explosion in mouth.” So, try it you might like it! Toss stems and leaves in your salad. Add tomatoes, feta, onions, cucumber and dressing. Improve your health
We are not serving purslane at our next garden club meeting, but please come the last Tuesday of October, First United Methodist Church, 525 David Ave., Red Bluff. Social time begins at 12:30 p.m., program begins at 1 p.m. followed by our business meeting. Our program for October is “Lavender & Loofahs” by MoonBeam Farms owner Caz Hansen. This will be very interesting.
The Red Bluff Garden Club is affiliated with the Cascade District Garden Club; California Garden Clubs, Inc; Pacific Region Garden Clubs and Natural Garden Clubs Inc.