Common Purslane Weedy Pest

Common purslane aka pusley aka pursley is a gardener’s nightmare – maybe. It has been used as a wild green and a medicinal plant historically. It is cultivated in the Middle East as animal fodder.

No one knows where puslane came from. Perhaps it came with the colonists. Yet its seeds are found in ancient archaeological sites in North America. Purslane doesn’t care. It lives anywhere it can internationally.

common purslane plant

This pot got overlooked in the spring. Common purslane doesn’t mind. It happily filled the pot with stems, leaves and flowers.

The plant seems to prefer gardens and flower pots around my home. That may be because it is more noticeable there.

Common purslane looks like a succulent with its thick stems. The leaves aren’t thick, yet give the impression they are. They have  broad, blunt tips.

Moss roses or Portulaca is a cultivated relative known for its beautiful flowers. Purslane flowers are similar, but much smaller and only in yellow. They bloom early in the morning, vanishing by noon.

common purslane leaf

Common purslane leaves are thicker than many other kinds of leaves, but not as thick as succulent leaves usually are. They have shiny surfaces covered with minute waxy spots.

The leaves fold up by evening in hot weather. Even the plant seems to fold up to sleep through the night.

There are so many kinds of weeds in my garden, common purslane may have grown there for years. It got pulled, tossed in the wheelbarrow and rolled away with the others.

common purslane stems

Common purslane stems are thick with a waxy look to them. They can turn mostly dull red.

Last year a plant got overlooked. It grew big and luxurious for a purslane. This means it sprawled out over the garden path with foot long stems. These were nearly half an inch thick, glossy reddish green.

I noticed it. I took the usual group of pictures except for flowers. Since I usually work in the garden in late afternoon, the flowers were long gone. That made identification difficult, but not impossible in this case.

common purslane flower

I suspect the common purslane flowers open more than this, if I spot them earlier than after milking is done. They may open at night and start closing in the morning.

This year I’m taking a few minutes to see the flowers. I haven’t nibbled on any yet. I’m thinking I will double check about the edibility of common purslane beforehand.

I may check out a stem or two with the goats. Weeds are much better nutritionally than the usual pasture grasses. Purslane may spread itself generously earning the name of weedy pest, but we may be condemning it unjustly.

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