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Portulacaceae, Portulaca oleracea, Purslane, verdolaga

November 30, 1999

This is a common, spontaneously appearing plant found growing throughout the tropics and warmer temperate regions. The wide range is due to high genetic flexibility which permits rapid adaptation to new environments. There are many forms, with different size leaves.

The plant is a prostrate fleshy herb with spreading branches. Leaves are fleshy, shiny and widest at the tips, shaped like a water droplet. Flowers are born terminally in clusters, with small round seed pods dispersing numerous small black seeds.

The leaves and shoots can be eaten raw and have a mild but pleasant taste. The leaves also make a good forage for poultry. The plant is versatile when it comes to how it can be eaten, and can be mixed into most any dish, raw or cooked.

In East africa the seeds are ground into a flour that is used to make porridge.

The plant is high in Vitamin E. Improved cultivars have been reported in Europe. The plant is cultivated in France, Denmark and the Netherlands.

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