English: common purslane, duckweed, pigweed, moss rose, pussely, parsley, purslane, little hogweed, verdolaga, wild portulaca, akulikuli-kula; Spanish: verdolago
Description: summer annual
Place of origin: Eurasia
Urban habitat: commonly found in vacant lots, neglected residential and commercial landscapes, rubble dumps, compacted soil, pavement openings.
Ecological function: disturbance-adapted colonizer; food for wildlife.
History: Portulaca oleracea is currently found widely across the world. Its species name oleracea means “of the vegetable garden”, referring to its edibility. Its stems and leaves have long been consumed by the cultures in which it grows. Its leaves are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and are often used as an addition to salads or as a substitute for okra and used as a thickener in soups. Its seeds can be ground into a powder and added with other grains to make gruel, bread, and pancakes. P. oleracea has a long history of medicinal use in Europe and Asia, primarily to reduce inflammation. Native American tribes consumed the plant as a vegetable and spice and used it medicinally to treat diarrhea, blood clots, worms, earaches, stomachaches, burns, bruises, pain, scarlet fever, and used it as a stimulant and antidote for insect stings and snakebites. It is also known to reduce symptoms of the autoimmune disease oral lichen planus, which affects the mouth’s mucus membrane.