How to Kill Purslane Weeds — Or Eat Them

Last Updated on September 25, 2021 by Grow with Bovees

Purslane weed is a sneaky type of weed, because just when you think you’ve gotten rid of it, the weed has a unique ability to bounce back.

This weed is frustrating for many gardeners, and is often billed as a nuisance for many homeowners for several reasons, most notably the fact that it grows back stronger, and encourages other weeds to grow along with it.

If you’re wondering how to kill purslane weeds, there are many ways including removing by hand, and using a pre-emergent herbicide.

Read on to find out how to get rid of purslane weeds, and prevent purslane seedlings from coming back.

What are Purslane Plants?

Portulaca oleracea also known as purslane is in fact an edible garden weed that offers myriad health benefits.

Portulaca in Latin means gate, which is the gate covering the capsule of the seed, and oleracea also in Latin meaning kitchen vegetable.

It is a popular weed in gardens and other cultivated areas, in planting beds, and along the edges of turfgrass.

Purslane weed is succulent, and just like a cactus stores moisture in its fleshy leaves. It invades bald or thin patches of your lawn, and tends to quickly dominate weak grass, but has far less chance of success competing with fast growing grass and a dense lawn.

The ability to store moisture makes it somewhat drought resistant, and able to thrive in dry, poor soils.

This summer, annual broadleaf weed can re-root itself from even a single fragment of leaves or stem left in the soil. What’s worse is that a mature plant can shed up to 50,000 purslane weed seeds for new growth.

What Does Purslane Weed Look Like?

Purslane features fleshy red stems that have green paddle-shaped small fleshy leaves. The flowers of this common garden invader are star-shaped and yellow in appearance.

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Purslane weed looks very similar to prostrate spurge, but the latter is toxic, and even though it won’t kill you, it can make you really sick.

Spurge however has thinner and smaller leaves, hairy stems, and different colored flowers. The foolproof way of telling the difference between purslane and spurge is by breaking a stem, and if you notice a milky white sap, then it’s spurge.

How to Kill Purslane Weeds?

The best time to kill purslane weeds is while they’re young. If you allow purslane weeds to grow to the seed stage, they will spread their seeds away from the mother plant, and cause a purslane infestation in other areas of your lawn.

Hand Pulling Purslane Weeds

Hand pulling is the best way to get rid of purslane weeds, and can be fairly easy because purslane covers a large area, making it easy to clear in one go.

However, hand pulling is often not recommended, because it can leave behind a small part of the plant stem or root, which will continue to grow.

To remove it by hand:

1. Locate the center of the clump or rosette, and with a little force, pull up firmly, ensuring you take out the entire root.

2. Put the pulled purslane plant in heavy-duty trash bags, so it can’t scatter any seeds.

3. Check the area for purslane seeds, leaf fragments, and stems, and get rid of them.

Herbicides for Purslane Weed

These are a few herbicides that can help eradicate purslane weeds.

1. First, get rid of purslane with your hands.

2. Read the directions on the label of the 2,4 D herbicide, (amazon link) and spray the seedlings.

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3. To prevent reoccurrence, apply a pre-emergent herbicide (amazon link) in the spring.

4.You should generally be able to kill seedlings with roundup, but mature plants are often resistant to roundup. It goes without saying, but avoid adding anything treated with herbicides to your favorite garden salad!

How to Prevent Purslane Weed from Coming Back?

Getting rid of purslane weed is not the hard part, controlling it is the daunting task.

As mentioned earlier, mature plants can move the seeds far away from the mother plant, and cause purslane infestations in other areas of your yard.

Adding to this, a single plant has the unique ability to re-root itself from any part of its leaves and stems.

Furthermore, purslane seeds can continue to ripen a long time after they have been uprooted from the ground.

This is why it’s important that you put the pulled plants in heavy-duty trash bags, and seal them tight or else you risk maturing of the plant to a stage where it’s able to throw its seeds back onto your soil.

But that’s not all, purslane seeds can survive in your soil for years waiting to germinate. When you clear purslane from the area, make sure you remove even the slightest trace of the plant to prevent re-rooting.

Purslane seedlings need light to germinate, so spreading a heavy layer of organic mulch over the previously infected area can help with purslane control.

One way of improving your chances, is to use a layer of weed control fabric on top of the soil before laying the barrier of mulch. Some black plastic gardening tarp could be used as an alternative to landscape fabric.

All in all, purslane weed control is all about making sure that the weed and purslane seedlings are all eliminated from your lawn and garden.

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Is it Safe to Eat Purslane?

Purslane is not only edible, but is much more nutritious than many other plants you plant. In terms of numbers, purslane has 14 times more Omega-3 fatty acids, six times more vitamin E than spinach, and seven times more beta-carotene than carrots.

Purslane is one of those plants that most people don’t intentionally plant, yet its yellow flowers may appear uninvited every spring in your garden.

But given its close resemblance to spurge, you need to identify the weed first to avoid consuming the wrong one that can make you ill.

How to Cook Purslane Plants?

The first thing to do before cooking purslane is to cut off the root, and thoroughly wash the individual stems.

Purslane can be added to smoothies or juiced. It can also be mixed with salads or added to certain soup recipes. You can even steam purslane for four to five minutes, and serve with a little butter and salt.

Who Should Not Eat Purslane?

There’s a small group of people who should not eat purslane including those prone to kidney stones. You should avoid eating purslane seeds, as they are as rich in oxalate compared to other parts of the plant. And remember, purslane is a succulent, hence it’s saltier than other vegetables.

Final Thoughts

Controlling purslane weeds is easy, but getting rid of these aggressive seeders for good can be a bit challenging. You can either hand pull or use a pre-emergent weed killer to remove purslane weeds from your lawn. You can use them for their health benefits or dispose of them properly.