Evil twin warning…spurge alert

1 July 2011 § 11 Comments

After yesterday’s happy purslane post, with a recipe for purslane and potato salad, I have to warn you the super-nutritious, quite tasty wonder weed, purslane, has an evil twin. The look alike – sinister spurge.

The Evil Spurge

Spurge – even the name actually sounds like a bad guy – is more wiry than the lovely, voluptuous Shakespearian sounding purslane. It also emits a white, milky substance (latex) when you snap the stem.

Check carefully before you start making salads from your yard. Safer to buy purslane from the Farmers’ Market.

Our friend - Purslane



§ 11 Responses to Evil twin warning…spurge alert

  • I think I have oodles of this stuff around my garden. Happily, it pulls up easily. Weeding is actually amazingly sweaty exercise! I hate it!

  • Georgia Guida says:

    I recently viewed a TV show extolling the benefits of purslane, and I picked some from my local dog walking park to replant in my garden. I hesitate to eat the stuff I picked, since it’s probably contaminated, but the new growth ought to be edible. It’s been sitting for a week in water indoors, and it’s thriving just like that. Can I transplant it to a pot and grow it indoors until springtime?

    • Hi Georgia, I’m no purslane expert but I guess you can transplant it – don’t see why not. In terms of telling spurge and purslane apart, spurge is more wiry and when you snap the stem you get a milky white substance from spurge. I think I have some in my yard too, but I get from my Farmer’s market just to be sure.

  • Georgia Guida says:

    Following up on my earlier query, what ar the sure-fire ways to tell the difference between spurge and purslane?

  • Fran Liscio says:

    Well, one way is, I think of Purslane as a succulent. I don’t know if technically it is or not, but the leaves seem sort of succulent to me. Spurge has just a truly flat leaf.

    • Georgia Guida says:

      Thanks, Fran! I think now that it was the evil spurge that I found and intended to replant. I discarded it and hope that I’ll find some at my local farmer’s market. If not, I’m thinking that the sunflower sprouts that they sell might be a nice substitute.

  • saradippity says:

    I was just talking to my neighbor last night and he showed me spurge. I’m researching it now. It’s not entirely evil. The sap is great for bug bites. That’s why he showed it to me, his mom used to put it on all their bug bites. I like this thread though, I was wondering about purslane lookalikes, but I wouldn’t have confused spurge with what I’m seeing that I think might be purslane. Like you said, spurge’s leaves are flat. Plus, the plant I see has stems that are more green. Are there any other lookalikes that you know of?

    • I never knew that about spurge sap being a good antidote for bug bites. Not aware of any other lookalikes.

      • saradippity says:

        Actually, I got off the phone a bit ago with my local nature center. She had never heard that either, but she said the sap is an irritant to some, so I should test it first. She also said that some members of the Sedum family look like purslane, but they have leaves that are more round. This means I just found a bunch of purslane in my yard among the spurge. Yay!

      • Georgia Guida says:

        I was able to find purslane in the farmers’ market last week. They tell me that they only have it in the summer months. I enjoyed eating it in potato salad as you suggested, and also just tossed into my green salad along with other greens.

        I chopped up the stem like celery and added it to egg salad for a nice crunch.

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