Purslane is a common weed found the world over. The leaves are alternate. Each succulent leaf is entire and the leaves are clustered at stem joints and ends. The flowers have 5 regular parts and are up to 0.6cm wide. They are yellow. Blooms first appear in late spring and continue into mid fall. The flowers open singly at the center of the leaf cluster for only a few hours on sunny mornings. Seeds are formed in a tiny pod the lid of which opens when the seeds are ready. It can be found growing wild and/or cultivated in much of the world. It existed in the New World before the arrival of Columbus, and was found in Europe by the late 16th century. It can be found growing in almost any unshaded area, including flower beds, corn fields, and waste places. Purslane can be found growing in cold climate areas as well as warm areas. It has been used in salads and as a medicinal plant (for people) for hundreds of years Purslane is a good edible and is eaten throughout much of Europe and Asia. It can be eaten fresh or cooked and has no bitter taste at all. Since it has a mucilaginous quality it is great for soups and stews. Purslane is native to Tropical Africa, Medit. to Pakistan and Arabian Peninsula, naturalized worldwide.
There are likely thousands of names for the purslane plant in various languages from the many human cultures that ate this plant as a nutritious herb throughout human history on the planet.
Purslane has smooth, reddish, mostly prostrate stems and the leaves, which may be alternate or opposite, are clustered at stem joints and ends. The yellow flowers have five regular parts and are up to 6 mm (0.24 in) wide. Depending upon rainfall, the flowers appear at any time during the year. The flowers open singly at the center of the leaf cluster for only a few hours on sunny mornings. The tiny seeds are formed in a pod, which opens when the seeds are mature. Purslane has a taproot with fibrous secondary roots and is able to tolerate poor soil and drought.
Purslane may be eaten as a leaf vegetable and can be used it in salad, that is to say, raw. It 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 raw or cooked.
Purslane may be used fresh as a salad, Stir-fried, or cooked as spinach is, and because of its mucilginous quality it also is suitable for soups and stews.