Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Common Purslane / Sommer Portulak

Portulaca oleracea

Common Purslane
Common purslane, also known as verdolaga, little hogweed, red root, or pursley and khorfe is an annual succulent in the family portulacaceae, which may reach 40 centimetres (16 in) in height. Approximately forty cultivars are currently grown. The plant was cultivated as a kitchen herb since antiquity. Purslane is very rich in C-vitamin and the important omega 3 fatty acids, which strengthen the immune Systeme. The plant is also diuretic. 

It has an extensive distribution throughout the Old World extending from North Africa and Southern Europe through the Middle East and the Iran, Indian Subcontinent to Malesia and Australasia. Scientists suggested that the plant was already eaten by Native Americans who spread its seeds. How it reached the New World is currently unknown. It is naturalised elsewhere, and in some regions is considered an introduced weed

Mostly prostrate stems and alternate leaves clustered at stem joints and ends. The yellow flowers have five regular parts and are up to 6 millimetres wide. Depending upon rainfall, the flowers appear at any time during the year. 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 mature. Purslane has a taproot with fibrous secondary roots and is able to tolerate poor compacted soils and drought.

A common plant in parts of India, purslane is known as sanhti, punarva, paruppu keerai (Tamil), gangavalli(Telugu) or kulfa (Hindi) 

Australian aborigines use the seeds of purslane to make seedcakes.

Greeks, who call it andrakla or glystrida  use the leaves and the stems with feta cheese, tomato, onion, garlic, oregano and olive oil. They add it in salads, boil it, or add it to casseroled chicken.

In Turkey, besides being used in salads and in baked pastries, it is cooked as a vegetable similar to spinach, or is mixed with yogurt to form a tsatsiki variant.

Similarly, in Egypt, it is known as reglah  and cooked as a vegetable stew.

Called Bakleh in Syria and Lebanon, is eaten raw in a famous salad called fattoush, and cooked as a garniture in fatayeh (triangular salted pastries).

In Albania, known as burdullak, it also is used as a vegetable similar to spinach, mostly simmered and served in olive oil dressing, or mixed with other ingredients as a filling for dough layers of byrek.

In the south of Portugal (Alentejo), baldroegas are used as a soup ingredient.

In Pakistan, it is known as qulfa and is cooked as in stews along with lentils, similarly to spinach, or in a mixed green stew.

Known as Ma Chi Xian (pinyin: translates as "horse tooth amaranth") in traditional Chinese medicine Its leaves are used for insect or snake bites on the skin, boils, sores, pain from bee stings, bacillary dysentery, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, postpartum bleeding, and intestinal bleeding.

Use is contraindicated during pregnancy and for those with cold and weak digestion

Nutrition and chemicals of the plant read wikipedia

Common Purslane/ Sommer Portulak is an old kitchen herb which was known back from the 1500s. The fresh shots can be eaten raw in salads etc. The taste reminds about mangetout peas, but with a sour touch. In old garden books it was often classified as a spice herb. Both leaves and stalks can be cooked and be mixed into mashed potatoes, in soups and sauces. The leaves act as a smotthing. The plant is suitable for vinegar pickling and it  can also be caramelized when fried in an oven.

Folk Medicine:

Harpestræng ab. 1300s: the juice from the herb to drink or the herb to crush and put upon the stomach against fever; the crushed herb upon an aching tooth or sick eyes; the plant to take with salt and wine against indigestion; purslane was the part of an ointment for abscesses and wounds.

Henrik Smid 1546: the juice from the seeds and destilled water from the plant against stomach-, liver- and kindey diseases. The plant and the juice against cough, shortness of breath and gonorrhea.
Purslane attenuates the superfluous unchastity.
Herb or seeds crushed and mixed with barley flour upon forehead and temples against headache.
Juice or destilled water from the plant with rose oil rubbed upon the forehead give a restful sleep. 

Simon Paulli 1648: put the plant on left side of body against pains from malaria. 

1700s: at the pharmacy was sold a sirup from purslane seeds for childrens' stomach pain.

The seeds were written into the pharmacopoeia in 1772.

In 1648 purslane /portulak grew in the Danish gardens, and the chefs used it in a salad. 
In 1800 purslane was used in soups, the chopped parts in kale soup.
The stalks were sugar candied like pumpkins, and vinegar pickled and used in a sharp sauce. 

Purslane counteracts drunkenness.
If the plant hangs above the bed peope don't get bad dreams.

Purslane in the fodder provides greater milch production in cows.

Source of the Denmark-text: 
V.J.Brøndegaard: Dansk Etnobotanik 1978-80, Folk og Flora, Portulak/ Portulaca oleracea 

photo and image: wikipedia.

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