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Portulaca oleracea (Common Purslane, also known as Verdolaga, Pigweed, Little Hogweed or Pusley), is an annual succulent in the family Portulacaceae, which can reach 40 cm in height. It is a native of India and the Middle East, but is naturalised elsewhere and in some regions is considered an invasive weed, but there is evidence that the species was in Crawford Lake deposits (Ontario) in 1430-89, suggesting that it reached North America in the pre-columbian era. It has smooth, reddish, mostly prostrate stems and alternate leaves clustered at stem joints and ends. The yellow flowers have five regular parts and are up to 6 mm wide. The flowers 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, which opens when the seeds are ready. Purslane has a taproot with fibrous secondary roots and is able to tolerate poor, compacted soils and drought.
Additional recommended knowledge
Although purslane is considered a weed in the United States, it can be eaten as a leaf vegetable. It has a slightly sour and salty taste and is eaten throughout much of Europe and Asia. It can be used fresh as a salad, or cooked like spinach, and because of its mucilaginous quality it is also suitable for soups and stews. Australian Aborigines used to use the seeds to make seedcakes.
Purslane contains more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plant. Simopoulos states that Purslane has .01 mg/g of EPA. This is an extraordinary amount of EPA for land based vegetable sources. EPA is an Omega-3 fatty acid normally found mostly in fish and some algae.  It also contains vitamins (mainly vitamin C, and some vitamin B and carotenoids), as well as dietary minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron. Also present are two types of betalain alkaloid pigments, the reddish betacyanins (visible in the coloration of the stems) and the yellow betaxanthins (noticeable in the flowers and in the slight yellowish cast of the leaves). Both of these pigment types are potent antioxidants and have been found to have antimutagenic properties in laboratory studies.
In Greek popular medicine, purslane is used as a remedy for constipation and inflammation of the urinary system. In antiquity its healing properties were thought so reliable that Pliny advised wearing the plant as an amulet to expel all evil (Natural History 20.120). 
Widely used in Greece, archaeobotanical finds are common at many prehistoric sites. In historic contexts, seeds have been retrieved from a protogeometric layer in Kastanas, as well as from the Samian Heraion dating to 7th century BC. Theophrastus in the 4th century BC names purslane, andrákhne, as one of the several summer pot herbs that must be sown in April (H.P 7.12).
Known as "Sanhti or Punarva" in North India it is known to act as a liver tonic and is used in diseases of the liver.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Portulaca_oleracea". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|