Purslane, also known as Khulpha, Khursa in Hindi or Ghol in Marathi, is a water-retaining plant that can reach a height of 6″ – 12”. It’s smooth, reddish, thick leaves are wedge shaped. The leaves are alternately clustered at stem joints and are greenish on top and purplish on the underside.
The very tiny yellow flowers are around 6 mm wide and depending upon rainfall, the flowers appear at anytime during the year. Purslane has a taproot with fibrous secondary roots and is able to tolerate poor, compacted soils and drought.
All that purslane needs to grow is part to full sun and clear ground. They are not picky about soil type or nutrition. If you decide to plant purslane seeds, simply scatter the seeds over the area that you plan on growing the purslane. Do not cover the seeds with soil. Purslane seeds need light to germinate, so they must stay on the surface of the soil. If you are using Purslane cuttings, lay them on the ground where you plan on growing purslane. Water the stems and they should take root in the soil in a few days.
About a month after the seeds are planted, the first flowers will begin to appear. Once the flowers open, the seeds will begin to set within about a week to ten days. Since the Purslane is an invasive plant, it is difficult to get rid of. This is because the plant has stored enough energy for the seeds to continue to mature even after you pull the plant. Therefore, if you are trying to get rid of purslane, don’t try to compost it. If the compost pile is not hot enough to destroy the seeds, you will end up with more plants you don’t want.
Purslane is ready to harvest in about 2 months from the time the seeds are sown. Make sure to harvest it regularly and be aware that it can become invasive. Harvesting before it develops flowers will help cut down on its spreading. Generally, you can harvest two or three times before the plants are exhausted.
The erect, tangy and succulent stems are high in Vitamin C. The leaves contain the highest concentration of Omega-3 fatty acids found in land plants. This is 5 times more than Spinach and 10 times more than any Lettuce or Mustard. It also contains Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and some Vitamin B and carotenoids as well as dietary minerals such as Magnesium, Calcium, Potassium and Iron.
100 Grams of fresh purslane leaves contain 300 to 400 mg of essential fatty acids (EFAs). One cup of cooked leaves contains 90 mg of Calcium, 561 mg of Potassium, and more than 2,000 IUs of Vitamin A.
As a companion plant, Purslane provides ground cover to create a humid microclimate for nearby plants, stabilizing ground moisture. Its deep roots bring up moisture and nutrients that those plants can use, and some, including corn, will “follow” purslane roots down through harder soil that they cannot penetrate on their own.
Author: Vaibhav Dugar
Me, I am a Green Warrior and yes you are either with me or against me! On paper I’m a telecommunication engineer but professionally, a farmer. Work takes me setting many-a-farms, tilling many-a-lands and playing with soil which I thoroughly enjoy. I love playing football (avidly), going cycling, watching Formula 1 and writing!
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