Purslane is an annual succulent weed that has thick paddle-like leaves and loves to pop up in dry inhospitable places. The weed reseeds and can be aggressive if left unchecked. It has a tiny little yellow flower. It often grows along the side of the alley behind the house in very poor dry soil. Since very little else usually succeeds out there I allow Purslane to grow and flower.
In the Middle East, Asia, and Mexico the weed is used as a food source. It is used cooked and raw. It is said to be high in omega-3 fatty acids and a good source for Vitamins A, C. E, B and minerals such as magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron.
The larger flowering relative Portulaca Grandiflora is available in garden nurseries as bedding plants. A large double flowering form is beautiful in hanging baskets. Portulaca has needle shaped succulent leaves and does well in dry sunny locations. Recently I planted the larger double flowering Portulaca in the dry gritty soil along the alley and they are very happy and producing waves of big bright flowers! There is some debate if it is safe to consume Portulaca Grandifloria.
Magically when Purslane/Portulaca is carried in a pocket it is said to protect you from harm and evil entities. In ancient times soldiers carried Purslane to protect themselves in battle. Some allow Purslane to grow around the house to give magical protection against evil. Tucking a branch of Purslane under your pillow will protect you from scary nightmares and help give you a very restful sleep!
The next time you see the thick leafed Purslane creeping into your garden, give it a second look and remember it is both a healthy food as well as a powerful magical herb of protection!