Sea Purslane

Scientific Name(s): Sesuvium portulacastrum
Abundance: uncommon
What: leaves, stems, flowers
How: raw or cooked
Where: coastal beaches
When: spring, summer, fall, winter
Nutritional Value: NaCl,
Dangers: can be extremely salty

Leaf Arrangement: The leaves are arranged oppositely along the stem.

Leaf Shape: The leaves are thick, fleshy, and cylindrical to oval, typically measuring about 1 to 3 inches in length.

Leaf Venation: The venation is not distinctly visible due to the fleshy nature of the leaves.

Leaf Margin: The margins of the leaves are smooth (entire).

Leaf Color: The leaves are a bright green, sometimes with a reddish or purplish tinge under stress conditions like high salinity or drought.

Flower Structure: The 5-petaled flowers are small, solitary, and borne in the leaf axils.

Flower Color: The flowers are usually pink or purple.

Fruit: The plant produces a small, capsule-like fruit.

Seed: The seeds are tiny and contained within the capsule.

Stem: The stems are succulent, sprawling, and can root at the nodes.

Hairs: There are no significant hairs on the leaves or stems.

Height: Sea Purslane is a low-growing plant, typically reaching only a few inches in height but spreading widely.

Sea Purslane.

Close-up of Sea Purslane flower.

Sea Purslane leaves.

Texas county distribution, attributed to U.S. Department of Agriculture.

North American distribution, attributed to U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Creeping along coastal sand dunes, Sea Purslane is often responsible for the creation of these dunes in the first place. The thick, succulent stems and leaves look like a somewhat over-sized version of the Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) you find growing out of sidewalk cracks in the hottest part of the summer. The two are related which is evident in both their shapes and their ability to handle extreme environments. Sea Purslane seems to thrive in the sun-baked, salty, coastal sand.

All above-ground parts of Sea Purslane are edible. Raw, they are a delicious though somewhat salty snack. If too salty, boiling the plant in 1-2 changes of water removes most of the salt, leaving behind a basic "boiled green" which can be used in any manner such as soups, stews, or any other way one uses a cooked green. They are great in salads or to add salt to any dish. Be sure the sand is clean and uncontaminated.

According to Green Deane, Sea Purslane contains the natural steroid ecdysterone which supposedly helps improve athletic performance. However, scientific testing did not show any increase in ability by test subjects taking ecdysterone.

Effects of Methoxyisoflavone, Ecdysterone, and Sulfo-Polysaccharide Supplementation on Training Adaptations in Resistance-Trained Males
Colin D Wilborn,1 Lemuel W Taylor,2 Bill I Campbell,3 Chad Kerksick,4 Chris J Rasmussen,3 Michael Greenwood,3 and Richard B Kreider corresponding author3
J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2006; 3(2): 19–27.
Published online Dec 13, 2006. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-3-2-19

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