At our last house, there was an especially persistent species of weeds in a little clearing by the mailbox. Try as I might, I simply couldn’t conquer those ugly little buggers. Cut them, and they grew back. Pulled ‘em up, they came back. Leave them to winter’s wrath, they were back in the spring.
Finally, the utility company had to dig up that area to lay some cable, and that did it. I didn’t let them come back.
We moved soon afterwards.
Now, a quick bit of background: As a general rule, Kim buys the plants and I take care of them.
So one day she shows up with two big potted plants. I glanced at ‘em, then looked again and froze.
It was the mailbox weeds.
“What are those?” I asked, recoiling as she set the pots on the counter beside me.
“It’s purslane,” she said. “It’s a superfood. We can put these on the back porch and break off a little bit every day.”
“They’re weeds. We had ‘em by the mailbox on Mosswood.” I smiled modestly. “Until I got rid of ‘em.”
No, she said, purslane was actually higher in omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy green plant. “We can eat it instead of fish sometimes,” she said.
Turns out it’s also an excellent source of vitamin A, and a rich source of vitamin C and B-complex vitamins like riboflavin, niacin and carotenoids.
It’s been quite common for ages in India, and is grown as a staple vegetable food in parts of Asia and Europe.
Well, bully for them, but in the good ol’ USA, we know it mostly as a nuisance weed with a stubborn bent. Growing alongside brick walkways, in gardens, along driveways – and next to mailboxes.
“So we’re gonna eat it, huh?” I asked.
“Yeah. It’s pretty good,” Kim said. She broke off a shoot, rinsed it off and handed it to me: Crunchy, kinda tart and a little peppery, with a little bit of an okra-slime finish.
So now we’re regular consumers of purslane. We snip a few shoots to put on salads, or sometimes just eat it by itself. (She even eats it on oatmeal; I’m not there yet.)
And I gotta admit: Sometimes when it’s just me and the purslane on the back porch, I kinda contemplate ripping it out and tossing it in the trash.
Ha ha. Just kidding, Kim.