Many gardeners will recognize this creeping, succulent leafed plant as a noxious weed that invades their gardens, even after year after year of picking, pulling, and hoeing.
Portulaca, also known as purslane, tends to grow prolifically throughout gardens all across the globe. Ironically, many gardeners do not realize that this uninvited little plant is packed with more nutrition than any of the vegetables that they so carefully planted and tend to.
I would know because I was one of them.
Growing up, portulaca grew "like a weed" in my mother's garden, as it prefers dry soils with little competition, such as her garden is, and it was one of my childhood chores to pull it out. It creeps low across the ground and releases itself from the soil without much of a fight.
I have to chuckle to myself, now as an adult, that I welcome portulaca into my garden.
Loaded in omega 3's, iron, beta carotene, calcium, magnesium, potassium, melatonin, and vitamins A, C, and E, which are known for their antioxidant powers, there really is no reason why one shouldn't eat this tasty little plant.
Portulaca blends well with other flavours, as the leaves have a bright, slightly peppery taste. I tend to eat the stalk and all in my salads, sandwiches, stir fries, and soups.
Yesterday, my mother, who lives nearby, and still has portulaca thriving in her garden, brought me a pail full, as she, of course, had some to spare. My garden is not as dry as my mother's and the portulaca doesn't thrive here the same.
As I happily worked away in my summer kitchen, rinsing my portulaca, as it often needs several rinses due to its tendencies of growing low to the ground, I remembered why I ever began eating portulaca in the first place.
It was not because I stumbled across one of the many articles stating the incredible nutritional value, or that someone told me how delicious it was.
It was actually all because of a dream.
Several years ago, I stated as I was falling asleep that I would like to meet my "plant ally."
A plant ally is something like an animal guide, or spirit guide, except from the plant realm. As a nature lover and a gardener, I was curious of who my plant ally could be.
That night, I dreamt that I was eating portulaca, and that I could not get enough of it.
When I awoke, I was a little shocked, as this was very unexpected.
Eating portulaca? Really? I had never heard of such a thing.
So I looked into portulaca, and I instantly knew why the portulaca had visited my dreams. Needless to say, my perspective about "weeds" has changed drastically.
Now when I am out in my garden, I refer to the portulaca as "powerful portulaca", and I speak to the unassuming plants with gratitude and respect.
And when I snip the stalks, or pluck the leaves, I thank it for its love for me, and for nourishing my body.
At the time of my dream, I was not yet a vegetarian, and had no intentions of ever becoming one.
Perhaps the portulaca knew this diet change was coming for me? As I am a vegetarian now, portulaca has become a very important plant within my diet.
I have noticed that the plant realm speaks gently, but their message and wisdom is no less powerful.
I have also noticed that they long to nourish us, and to share their gifts with the rest of the world.
Portulaca insists on growing even when it is unwanted and misunderstood. It knows that it is important and has a gift to share.
As my plant ally, I try to ingest all of the nutrition that it has to share with me, including the spiritual nutrition.
Portulaca taught me the valuable lesson that there really are no "weeds" in this world.
Every plant, just like every person, has a purpose and a gift to share.
Portulaca does not wait to be planted, or to be told that it is worthy.
It already knows its worth.
Thank you, portulaca, for your valuable lessons.