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Purslane


By jstookey - Posted on 03 July 2015

I have been casually eyeing some plants in the backyard that look like the edible purslane. It turns out that there are actually two different plants growing next to each other that look very similar. One is a delicious edible green called purslane. The other is a poisonous lookalike called, "hairy-stemmed spurge". Amazing (and a little scary) that they grow so close to each other.

Purslane has a distinctive red stem and succulent leaves, sort of like the leaves of a jade plant. It's really tasty. There's not a lot growing in my yard, it will take more willpower than what I've got not to devour it all before it gets a chance to spread.

Spurge has a slightly hairy stem and a milky sap that exudes when the stem is broken:

It turns out that milky sap is a good general guideline for things not to eat (unless you know for sure that it's safe).

(8/2/15: The purslane in the yard has developed millions of tiny black seeds which I have spread around a bit, we'll see if they grow into more purslane. I've been weeding most of the spurge.)

Note to self

Track down:
* wild carrot - Found this growing all over. Also found it's very deadly lookalike nearby. Surprisingly easy to confuse the two. I might avoid this one.
* wild aparagus - Went on a long mission to find these, could be tricky.
* lamb's quarters - I have since found these growing around the area
* cattails

Links

* A concise description of some common edibles. Also be sure to check out the "Plants to Avoid" section.
* A somewhat unrelated page, but great and useful trees.
* Some poisonous plants to look out for

I've seen your first link before, and I'd like to add that it doesn't go into much detail. For example it doesn't explain that Purslane doesn't have a very similar plant know as spurge like you stated that is not eatable. All the plants on that page are great, but the lack of detail on how specific you need to be when choosing the right plant should be noted.

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