Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Portulaca oleracea

Portulacaceae

Pigweed or Purslane

Parnamula, pirla to Paakantyi people

Description

Pigweed is an annual - it completes its life cycle in a year. It has a thickened taproot and fleshy stems growing up to 25 cm along the ground. The yellow flowers appear in August through March.

Where it is found

Pigweed is found Australia-wide. In New South Wales it occurs from the coast to the far western plains.

Uses

  • The tiny black seeds are one of the most important bush foods of inland Australia, containing up to 20 per cent protein and 16 per cent fat. Joseph Maiden (1889) reported that Aboriginal people ‘pulled up the plants, throwing them in heaps, which after a few days they turn over and an abundant supply of seed is found to have fallen out’. The seed is processed by grinding it on a flat rock with a hand-held stone. The resulting flour is made into a damper. Low (1989) comments that the oil from the seeds staions the grinding stones.
  • The leaves and stems are also edible. They can be pounded into a mush and eaten raw, cooked as a vegetable or added to salads.

Further information

Click here for further information on Portulaca oleracea.

Portulaca oleracea
The seeds, leaves and stems of Pigweed (Portulaca oleracea) are edible. Aboriginal people across the outback call it munyeroo. Photo: Tony Rodd.

Portulaca-oleracea
Portulaca oleracea: flowers and leaves, seed, stem, habit.