What is this? It suddenly showed up in the area on the side of my house that I don't have anything growing in. I'm guessing a bird left a seed. I don't water there yet it just keeps growing. Is this some sort of succulent or just a weed? I'm in central California, zone 9.

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  • 3
    Your bet has a definition problem - we tend to define „weeds“ as „plants growing in a spot where the gardener doesn’t want them“. One gardener‘s weed may be another‘s treasure. ;-)
    – Stephie
    Aug 18, 2019 at 20:08

3 Answers 3


It is both, it is Portulaca oleracea.

I consider it as a weed, and I remove it from my vegetable garden. It has shallow roots, so it is easy to remove.

So you can imagine my surprise when my sister gave me a seed packing (I like strange plants), with such plant. On some places it is considered a vegetable, so it is planted/seeded in vegetable gardens. It seems that it taste better if you harvest in the morning, and much different if you harvest it in the evening: like many succulent plants, they have special metabolism: they will not keep stomata open during day, so they will accumulate chemicals during day, and complete the metabolic process during night. In this manner they will lose much less water then usual plants. But so the plant taste differently in the morning and in afternoon.

I never ate it. For me it is a weed. I seeded it on a pot far from the vegetable garden, and it looks like as my weeds.

  • The seeds can remain viable in the soil for 40 years, I've read. It's a harder one to pull up, because it breaks easily, leaving part of the plant to regrow. It has a lemony, kind of slimey taste/texture. It's supposed to be high in omega 3s. If you actually take care of it, with fertilizer and stuff, it looks really awesome and grows quite differently. As a neglected weed, it looks interesting, and tends to be flat, spread across the dirt. The pictured purslane in the question looks kind of in-between (not utterly neglected). It appears to have plenty of nitrogen by the shiny leaves. Aug 1, 2022 at 22:35
  • I recommend tasting it before you cultivate it. Aug 1, 2022 at 22:41

Purslane is widely used as a food around the world. When I lived in the Andes mountains it was weeded out of crop fields, but considered an important food source.

I have enjoyed it for years, stir-fried like collard greens with a little butter, salt, and lemon.

A few years ago I asked a newly opened organic farm/farm stand if I could "weed" their field for it. They said, "Sure." The next year I was told I'd have to pay for it as they had begun selling their "weeds" (along with Lamb's Quarter), and they'd found the market for them to be robust.

NOTE that some sources caution about a toxic lookalike, but I have never run into it.

It is definitely worth trying.


In Portugal it is known as "Beldroegra" and can be weed or cultivated. In India it is wild, and consumed for thousands of years. It is grown in the Middle East and in part of France. It is rich in fatty acids (especially omega-3), protein (20-40% dry weight) and minerals, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium. It also contains vitamins A, E, B and C and beta carotene, which are good antioxidants.

Culinary Uses- Eaten raw in salads or cooked in soups with goat cheese, breadcrumbs, omelets, tortillas or simply cooked as spinach.

Hope this helps

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