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Medicinal Plants for Livestock

Portulaca oleracea

[Introduction and Common Names] [Chemical Compounds and Nutritional Value] [Toxicity] [Uses and Efficacy] [References] [Return to medicinal plants list]


Portulaca oleracea (Family Portulacaceae), commonly known as purslane in the U.S., is an herbaceous weed. The orgin of purslane is uncertain. It can be found growing wild and/or cultivated in much of the world. It existed in the New World before the arrival of Columbus, and was found in Europe by the late 16th century. It can be found growing in almost any unshaded area, including flower beds, corn fields, and waste places. Purslane can be found growing in cold climate areas (e.g., Canada) as well as warm areas (e.g., the Caribbean). It has been used in salads and as a medicinal plant (for people) for hundreds of years. To see pictures of purslane, please go to the University of Hawaii's web site.

Common names for Portulaca oleracea include:

  • Akulikuli-kula
  • Ancharupa
  • Beldroega
  • Berbin
  • Coupe-Pied
  • Coupier
  • Farfena (Central Oman)
  • Gelang pasir
  • Golasiman (Philippines)
  • Krokot
  • Ma Ch'Ih Hsien
  • Ngalug (Philippines)
  • Parpinah
  • Perpine
  • Pig weed
  • Porcelana
  • Pourpier Commun, Pourpier
  • Purslane (U.S.)
  • Pusley (U.S.)
  • Rigla (Egypt)
  • Semizotu
  • Stilchi (Garo in India)
  • Suberi-Hiyu
  • Verdolaga (Dominican Republic)
  • Vertolaga (Peruvian Amazon)

Chemical Compounds and Nutritional Value

P. oleracea contains many biologically active compounds and is a source of many nutrients. Some of the biologically active (and, in some case, potentially toxic compounds) include free oxalic acids, alkaloids, omega-3 fatty acids, coumarins, flavonoids, cardiac glycosides, and anthraquinone glycosides. It has high contents of Omega-3 fatty acids and protein (compared to other vegetables) (Ezekwe, et al. 1999). The quantity of these compounds in P. oleracea varies with the growing conditions (e.g., planting date, soil quality, fertilization) and the age of the plant.

Some of the compounds in Portulaca oleracea are listed below. For a more complete list, go to Dr. Duke's Phytochemical Database.

  • alanine -- plant and herb (570-13,400 ppm)
  • alkaloids -- leaf (300 ppm)
  • caffeic acid -- plant
  • calcium oxalate -- herb
  • catechol -- plant
  • beta-cyanin -- herb
  • digalactosyldiacylglycerol -- herb
  • docosahexaenoic acid -- herb
  • dopa -- plant
  • eicosapentaenoic acid -- herb (10 ppm)
  • HCN -- plant
  • histidine -- herb (220-5,170 ppm)
  • l-noradrenalin -- plant (2,500 ppm)
  • linoleic acid -- herb (704-18,245 ppm) and seed (67,686 ppm)
  • linolenic acid - herb (3,221-64,315 ppm) and seed (17,226 ppm)
  • alpha-linolenic acid -- herb (4,000-80,000 ppm)
  • lysine -- herb (650-13,200 ppm)
  • methionine -- herb (90-2,814 ppm)
  • norepinephrine -- plant
  • oleic acid -- herb (16-2,160 ppm) and seed (49,935 ppm)
  • omega-3's -- plant (30,000 ppm)
  • oxalates -- shoot
  • oxalic acid -- plant (1,679-16,790 ppm)
  • phytin-p -- plant (4-40 ppm)
  • saponin -- plant
  • sinapic acid -- plant
  • beta-sitosterol -- seed
  • tannin -- plant
  • threonine -- herb (470-9,400 ppm)
  • tryptophan -- herb (160-3,400 ppm)
  • valine -- herb (660-13,200 ppm)


No data on the toxicity of P. oleracea could be found in the literature. However, the plant does contain cardiac glycosides and oxalic acids, which can be toxic.

Uses and Efficacy

In the Dominican Republic, all parts of Portulaca oleracea are used in treatments for internal parasites. The plant always is mixed with other plants (e.g., Chenopodium ambrosioides). No in vitro or in vivo efficacy tests with the plant or extracts of the plant against common internal parasites could be found in the literature. In de Bairacli-Levy (1991), P. oleracea is listed as a treatment for parasites, a blood-cleanser, and to refresh the digestive system. The plant is to be fed fresh (after it has seeded) ad lib.

While efficacy tests have not been conducted for these specific livestock uses, Portulaca oleracea has been extensively studied for other forms of bioactivity. In vitro and in vivo tests have been conducted with P. oleracea to determine, for example, its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anti-fungal activity.

P. oleracea has been used to treat the following ailments in humans:

  • Alexiteric -- China
  • Alterative -- Turkey
  • Anthrax -- China
  • Antidote
  • Antiphlogistic -- China
  • Aperient -- Java
  • Ardor -- Turkey
  • Astringent - India and Sudan
  • Bactericide -- China
  • Bite (Bug, snake) - China and the Philippines
  • Bladder -- India
  • Blennorrhagia -- China
  • Boil -- China
  • Burn
  • Cardiotonic -- Haiti
  • Cold -- China
  • Colic -- China
  • Demulcent -- Sudan
  • Dermatitis -- China
  • Detergent -- India
  • Diuretic -- China, Haiti, India, Sudan and Turkey
  • Diarrhea and dysentery - China and the Philippines
  • Dyspepsia -- China and Haiti
  • Dysuria
  • Ear ache
  • Eczema -- China
  • Edema -- China
  • Emollient -- China, Dominican Republic and Turkey
  • Empacho -- Trinidad
  • Enteritis -- China
  • Erysipelas -- China
  • Fever -- China
  • Fungicide
  • Genital -- China
  • Gonorrhea
  • Heat - India and the Philippines
  • Hematuria
  • Hemostat -- Haiti
  • Hemoptysis
  • Hemorrhage
  • Herpes -- China
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Hypotension -- Trinidad
  • Inflammation
  • Insomnia -- Haiti
  • Intestine -- China
  • Kidney - Haiti and India
  • Leucorrhea -- China
  • Liver
  • Lung -- India
  • Mouth
  • Nausea -- China
  • Opacity -- China
  • Ophthalmia -- Malaya
  • Palpitation -- Trinidad
  • Pile -- China
  • Poison -- Australia
  • Poultice -- China
  • Pruritis -- China
  • Scald
  • Scurvy -- China, Haiti, India and Turkey
  • Sedative -- Turkey
  • Soporific -- Haiti
  • Sore -- China
  • Spleen
  • Swelling -- China
  • Thirst -- China
  • Tonic -- China
  • Toothhache
  • Tumor -- Brazil, China, Colombia and Gabon
  • Urogenital -- China, Kurdistan and Spain
  • Vermifuge -- China, Dominican Republic, Iraq, Java, Trinidad and Venezuela
  • Viricide
  • Vulnerary -- India
  • Wart -- Japan, Mexico and Peru
  • Wound - China


Not all of the references in the list below were used in writing this web page. They are included here so that a more complete resource list is available for those interested in the subject area.

  • Abivardi, C. 1971. Studies on the effects of 9 Iranian anti-helminthic plant extracts on the root-knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita. Phytopathol Z.71 (4): 300-308.
  • Banerjee, Gautam and Muckherjee, Ambarish. 1996. Portulaca oleracea L.: A gem of aliens in India. Journal of Phytological Research. 9 (2): 111-115.
  • Barbakadze, V.V., Gakhokidze, R.A., Shengeliya, Z.S., and Usov, A.I. 1989. Preliminary study of water-soluble polysaccharides in some plants in the Georgian SSR USSR. Khimiya Prirodnykh Soedinenii (Tashkent). (3): 330-335. (Russian)
  • Bairacli-Levy, Juliette de. 1991. The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable. Faber, Boston.
  • Belair, G. and Benoit, D.L. 1996. Host suitability of 32 common weeds to Meloidogyne hapla in organic soils of southwestern Quebec. Journal of Nematology. 28 (4 Suppl.): 643-647.
  • Chun, K.J., Kim, Jin Kyu, Lee, Young Keun and Kim, Bong Hee. 1999. Effect of Portulaca Oleracea water extract on the changes of urine amino acid contents and survival rate by irradiation in mice. Yakhak Hoeji. 43 (2): 274-277. (Korean)
  • Dr. Duke's Ethnobotanical and Phytochemical Databases at
  • Elmi, A.A., Mebrahtu, T., Omara, Alwala T.R., and Ezekwe, M. 1997. Environmental effects on yield and agronomic traits of Purslane (Portulaca spp.). Virginia Journal of Science. 48 (3): 203-209.
  • Eskander, E.F. and Jun, H. Won. 1995. Hypoglycaemic and hyperinsulinemic effects of some Egyptian herbs used for the treatment of diabetes mellitus (type II) in rats. Egyptian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 36 (1-6): 331- 342.
  • Ezekwe, Michael O., Omara, Alwala Thomas R., and Membrahtu Tadesse. 1999. Nutritive characterization of purslane accessions as influenced by planting date. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition (Dordrecht), 54(3): 183-191.
  • Garti, N., Slavin, Y., and Aserin, A. 1999. Surface and emulsification properties of a new gum extracted from Portulaca oleracea L. Food Hydrocolloids. 13 (2): 145-155.
  • Garti, N., Aserin, A., and Slavin, Y. 1999. Competitive adsorption in O/W emulsions stabilized by the new Portulaca oleracea hydrocolloid and nonionic emulsifiers. Food Hydrocolloids. 13 (2): 139-144.
  • Garti, N., Slavin, Y., and Aserin, A. 1999. Portulaca oleracea gum and casein interactions and emulsion stability. Food Hydrocolloids. 13 (2): 127-138.
  • Ghazanfar, Shahina A. and Al-Sabahi, Ahmed Mohammed. 1993. Medicinal plants of northern central Oman (Arabia). Economic Botany. 47 (1): 89-98.
  • Grieve, C.M. and Suarez, D.L. 1997. Purslane (Portulaca oleracea L.): A halophytic crop for drainage water reuse systems. Plant and Soil. 192 (2): 277-283.
  • Guil, Guerrero Jose L. and Rodriguez, Garcia Ignacio. 1999. Lipids classes, fatty acids and carotenes of the leaves of six edible wild plants. European Food Research and Technology, 209(5): 313-316.
  • Islam, M.W., Zakaria, M.N.M., Radhakrishnan, R., Habibullah, M., and Chan, K. 1998. Evaluation of analgesic activity of the aerial parts of Portulaca oleracea v. sativa and its comparison with two related spices. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. 50 (Suppl.): 226.
  • Kamil, M., Jayaraj, A.F., Ahmad, F., Gunasekhar, C., Thomas, S., Habibullah, M., and Chan, K. 1998. Chemical standardization of Portulaca oleracea v. sativa. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. 50 (Suppl.): 259.
  • Lichtenthaler, Hartmut K. and Schweiger, Joachim. 1998. Cell wall bound ferulic acid, the major substance of the blue-green fluorescence emission of plants. Journal of Plant Physiology. 152 (2-3): 272-282.
  • Maheshwari, J.K. and Singh, J.P. 1984. Contribution to the ethnobotany of Bhoxa tribe of Bijnor and Pauri Garhwal districts Uttar Pradesh India. J Econ taxon Bot. 5 (2): 253-260.
  • Mitich, Larry W. 1997. Common purslane (Portulaca oleracea). Weed Technology. 11 (2): 394-397.
  • Mizutani, Masanori, Hashidoko, Yasuyuki, and Tahara, Satoshi. 1998. Factors responsible for inhibiting the motility ofzoospores of the phytopathogenic fungus Aphanomyces cochlioides isolated from the non-host plant Portulaca oleracea. FEBS Letters. 438 (3): 236-240.
  • Norman, Helen A. and Simopoulos, Artemis P. XXXX. Profiles of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants in common purslane throughout plant development. World Review of Nutrition and Dietetics; Nutrition and fitness for athletes. Simopoulos, A.P. Pavlou, K.N. (Eds) 71. (P.O. Box: S. Karger AG) 186-187.
  • Palaniswamy, Usha Rani, McAvoy, Richard, and Bible, Bernard. 1997. Omega-3-fatty acid concentration in Portulaca oleraceae L. is altered by the source of nitrogen in hydroponic solution. Hortscience. 32 (3): 462-463.
  • Pope, D.F., Thompson, A.C., and Cole, A.W. 1984. Phytotoxicity of root exudates and leaf extracts of nine plant species. Thompson, A.C. (Ed.). ACS (American Chemical Society) Symposium Series, 268. The chemistry of allelopathy: biochemical interactions among plants, 187th meeting, St. Louis, Mo.
  • Portillo, Hector E., Pitre, Henry N., Meckenstock, Dan H. and Andrews, Keith L. 1996. Oviposition preference of Spodoptera latifascia (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) for sorghum, maize and non-crop vegetation. Florida Entomologist. 79 (4): 552-562.
  • Radhakrishnan, R. Zakaria, M.N.M. Islam, M.W. Ismail, A. Habibullah, M. Chan, K. 1998. Neuropharmacological actions of Portulaca oleracea v. sativa. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. 50 (Suppl.): 225.
  • Sakai, Naomi, Inada, Kyouko, Okamoto, Michi, Shizuri, Yoshikazu, and Fukuyama, Yoshiyasu. 1996. Portuloside A, a monoterpene glucoside, from Portulaca oleracea. Phytochemistry (Oxford). 42 (6): 1625-1628.
  • Thangavel, Palaniswamy and Subburam, Venkatasamy. 1998. Effect of trace metals on the restoration potential of leaves of the medicinal plant, Portulaca oleracea Linn. Biological Trace Element Research. 61 (3): 313-321.
  • Yoon, J.W., Ham, S.S., and Jun, H.S. 1999. Portulaca oleracea and tumor cell growth. Official Gazette of the United States Patent and Trademark Office Patents. 1219 (2): 1472
  • Zakaria, M.N.M., Islam, M.W., Radhakrishnan, R., Habibullah, M., and Chan, K. 1998. Evaluation of anti-inflammatory activity of Portulaca species. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. 50 (Suppl.): 227.
  • Zeng Xiaoling. 1999. A study of scavenging action of purslane aquenous extracts on oxygen free radical. Hunan Yike Daxue Xuebao. 24 (2): 133-135. (Chinese)