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Digital Subscriptions > Well Being Journal > January/February 2016 > Purslane and the Wild Wisdom of Weeds: A Forager’s Guide to Ultimate Food Security

Purslane and the Wild Wisdom of Weeds: A Forager’s Guide to Ultimate Food Security

THERE ARE MORE THAN fifty species of purslane growing worldwide, although Portulaca oleracea is one of the most commonly widespread varieties found in temperate and colder climates. Purslane is a low-growing fleshy succulent herb. It often has reddish stems that spread horizontally across the ground. It has stems that branch out from a central root and create a mat over the ground. The leaves are smooth and shiny and have a teardrop shape that is more narrow where it meets the stem and wider on the outside edge. They are juicy and plump with liquid. Each leaf attaches directly to the reddish stem without a stalk and they are both alternately and oppositely attached. In colder climates, purslane emerges from the winter’s hibernation only once the temperatures increase in heat toward late spring or summer. In warmer climates, it grows yearround as a perennial.

The flower is delicate, small, and yellow with five petals. It only opens for a short time in the presence of bright sun. The seeds are tiny, round, and black. They are formed in cuplike containers after the flowers have completed their growth cycle. The little black seeds spill out of their container once ripe. One plant can produce more than fifty thousand seeds. The seeds have evolved to endure over time and ensure reproductive success.

Photo © 2014 by Katrina Blair

Each seed has the ability to survive over forty years in a state of dormancy before germinating.

The whole plant is considered a prostrate weed, which means it grows low to the ground. The stems are reddish and the roots are whitish or light yellow in color. The roots reach down close to 12 inches in depth and spread out in all directions in a radius of about 6 inches from the center. It is considered a primary succession plant and is one of the first crops to find its niche in barren lands. It is a beneficial plant that helps prevent moisture from leaving the ecosystem. As a ground cover plant, it protects the ground fertility by keeping water from evaporating and wind from blowing away precious developing topsoil. As a succulent ground cover, it supports other crops such as cultivated vegetable plants from experiencing drought conditions by creating a humid microclimate. Purslane’s roots are taproots with stringy rootlets reaching out to bring up nutrients and help break through hard soils, all while stabilizing the moisture in the soil.

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About Well Being Journal

This is our 25th anniversary year, and with our new January/February 2016 issue we present a seminal piece by Amy Berger, MS, NTP, that presents clear research showing how Alzheimer’s disease starts with consumption of too many sugars; this impairs glucose metabolism and leads to plaque in the brain. Next Katrina Blair extols the virtues of the edible “weed” purslane. Bruce Weinstein, PhD, in “Patience,” shows the remarkable benefits patience reaps. Mike Dow’s feature, “Digital Distraction & Mindfulness,” suggests that constant connection to digital devices has an overall deleterious impact, and he offers delicious mindfulness practices to help improve quality of life. Ann and Ross Rosen discuss the importance of moderate exercise in daily life, and Shannon McRae explains how energy medicine as nature’s assistant is much more powerful when the receiver’s intention is in alignment with that of the healer’s. Finally, Laura Coffey tells the story of a special nursing home companion, a loving golden retriever named Rocky, and his positive impact on the residents. We present all of this in our first issue of the year, and more than we can mention, including a plethora of scintillating research notes.
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