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Edible weeds everywhere. Some are nasty. Find purslane!

Robyn Openshaw - Aug 26, 2010 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

So I checked my son Ten out early from school yesterday because he had a double header far from home. On the front step on the school is my favorite edible weed, purslane, see photo below.

It’s higher in iron than any other green I have ever found–cultivated or wild. If you’re anemic, find some and toss it in the blender. It’s also really mild-flavored. Most non-cultivated greens taste pretty strong.

I don’t see that much purslane in Utah. I saw a ton of it in Nebraska a few years ago, and it grows many places–very close to the ground, with small, fleshy leaves and stems, all of which is “food.”

No, I didn’t pick this from the school steps, for my green smoothies. I didn’t want to drink whatever is on the bottom of kids’ shoes! Don’t pick weeds on the side of busy roadways, near where weeds are sprayed, or where people walk.

I am going to try to locate enough wild edibles to do a video soon to help you identify them. I rode up the canyon today on my bike with my camera to take more photos. I mostly enjoyed the ride and forgot to look for greens.

But I did see a thistle and got off my bike to photograph it. I put a leaf in my mouth to chew it up and make sure it is what I thought it was. (That’s me taking one for the team: if I don’t get sick, it’s edible!)

All the squirrels went running as I gagged and choked. OMG. Worst thing that’s ever been in my mouth. It would take 20 pounds of fruit to neutralize that bitter-awful blech. Which I could still taste 20 minutes later, even though I then drank half my Camelbak of water.

I put thistles in my green smoothies a few times, years ago, but my younger daughter got an itchy throat from it, so I quit. So, um, maybe don’t eat those.

This time of year, a lot of the weeds are too tall and woody and bitter. They’re best in the spring. If you pick them in the heat of the late summer, find small, tender ones.

There’s another photo here of me YEARS ago eating one variety of lambsquarter from an empty lot in Provo. Lambsquarter is also abundant in Utah and great to toss in your blender. It’s good to know this stuff and start using wild greens, for emergency preparedness.

Posted in: Gardening, Green Smoothies, Whole Food

14 thoughts on “Edible weeds everywhere. Some are nasty. Find purslane!”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi, Robin,

    I have your recipe for Curried Quinoa—–it doesn’t call for curry.

    Is Turmeric a curry????


    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Steve, haha, good point. It tastes like curry/Indian to me, but yeah, I guess I don’t have that actual spice in the recipe!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for sharing this!

    Here’s some trivia for you: According to Suzanne Ashworth’s “Seed to seed”, there is a difference between pigweed and lamb’s quarters, but they do look similar and both are edible and if you’re even vaguely familiar with them, there’s no danger of accidentally eating a poisonous plant. Pigweed is in the amaranth family and can grow to 6 feet tall (and boy, is it hard to pull!). Lamb’s quarters is in the spinach/beet/swiss chard/quinoa family and might reach 2 feet and it has a whitish, frost-like look on its young leaves.

    Spurge is supposedly purslane’s poisonous look alike. Puslane is much more common though and they do look different. It’s fun to research it – a quick search brings up photos and edible plant sites. I read one site that said you can tell it’s not puslane if it has a milky white sap in the stem; the taste would also be different.

  3. Anonymous says:

    This website has a great description of Purslane.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Is it true?That you will be in the Las Vegas area this Oct21?If this is indeed true,may I have more info.thanks

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Joyce, I will be in Las Vegas Oct. 21. When I line up the details, I will post here and on the GreenSmoothieGirl facebook fan page.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Yes, some varieties of spurge look a lot like purslane, so be aware. Purslane has smooth reddish stems (no hairs) and has no milky fluid. The large variety of spurge that looks like it has hairs and milky sap. Their geographic distribution can often overlap. Spurge can make you very sick, so just be aware of the differences.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Elizabeth & Wendy:

    Yes, spurge has a similar look to purslane, but it’s easy to tell them apart. From the Wildman Steve Brill Website: “Beware of spurge, a different-looking poisonous creeping wild plant that sometimes grows near purslane. The stem is wiry, not thick, and it gives off a white, milky sap when you break it.”

    I think the biggest issue is that they grow in the same conditions and both spread along the ground, so you could accidentally pick some when picking purslane.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Purslane also has the highest known amount of Omega 3 fatty acids in the plant kingdom.

  8. Anonymous says:

    This is great to have photos of these edible wild plants… please keep them coming! I found a warehouse near me in Sydney Australia that sells frozen organic berries and vegies! now I can really get into ‘creative’ green smoothies! Am aiming for 1 litre per day (roughly equivalent to 1 quart) It is spring here and my greens in my are starting to really take off!!


  9. Anonymous says:

    “Curry” means soup in India. There is a ‘curry’ powder which is a mixture of spices used to make a soup or ‘curry’. Turmeric is one of the spices in the curry powder. It is the spice that gives the ‘curry’ it’s yellow color. This is the answer I got when I asked a lady from India who had made a very delicious chicken curry for our pot luck at work and she was gracious enough to give me her recipe when I asked for it.

    That was over 25 years ago. I still make her recipe, and my family all still like it. We use pork or chicken usually but I’d bet it would be good as a vegetable soup, also.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Margaret – with the curry info.

    If you wouldn’t mind would you email me your curry recipe?

    Would really love to have an authentic version…..

    Many thanks,


    ps- I eat the real pursalane from my garden – put with onions and small carrots in quick-not-overly-heated stir fry…yummy!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Dear Robyn, Come to my house next summer, we have a garden full of purslane. I tried it in a green smoothy once, but used too much. I will have to try it again. Thanks. Mickey

  12. Ellen says:

    I found out how many health benefits there are in Purslane, so I have worked for 3 years (summers) to cultivate 3 pots of them. I discovered that by the mid-summer, they die off slowly, until I did research and discovered that they need alot of drainage. So I replanted 2 pots of them. Bottom of pots are lined with rocks, then sandy soil, then rocks and more sand, and they are growing GREAT now. I blend them into my smoothie in the morning!

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