Special Photo: Orrin MorrisYELLOW PURSLANE Portulaca oleracea

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” (Psalm 24:1) The Psalmist was emphatic about all created things, they are the Lord’s. We may say emphatically, “that’s my land, my car, my tree, my son or daughter,” but the Psalmist would say it all belongs to the Lord.

Some of us have marveled at the perspective of the Native American cultures in which the land and the buffalo were God’s gifts for all to use, not to own. In those cultures, the abundantly fruitful world was to be carefully managed and not wastefully exploited. How many more decades will it take for us “civilized” people to learn this truth from these “natives”?

YELLOW PURSLANE Portulaca oleracea

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Let us examine a wildflower that has benefited humankind for many centuries. This plant, with thick reddish branches, runs about 12 inches sprawling along the ground. The leaves are alternate rather than paired. They are smooth, thick and fleshy, measuring between 1/2 to 1 inch long. Their shape reminds me of a serving spoon or spatula.

The blossoms are a pale yellow about 3/4 of an inch diameter. I’m told that occasionally the blooms appear white. Sometimes the blooms are in clusters, but more often they are solo.

Generally, the blooms have five petals and eight or more stamens. The rose moss (Portulaca pilosa) is a close relative from which the commercially developed Portulaca was derived.

Purslane grows everywhere, in waste areas or cultivated areas. It can be a pest in the garden. The most redeeming thing about it is that its shallow roots can easily be pulled up.

Purslane appears in late spring and may continue spreading until the first frost.

The tender young branches of the purslane can be cooked and seasoned like spinach. It has been used as food in India for more than 2,000 years and in Europe for several hundred years. It is valued for its high iron content, but too much of it can be toxic.

Remember our verse for today, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” (Psalm 24:1). Amid the pandemic that perplexes us, God is at work for all of us.

Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. To purchase a two-volume set of books featuring his wildflower columns, visit The Sketching Pad in Olde Town Conyers, or call 770-929-3697 or text 404-824-3697. Email him at odmsketchingpad@yahoo.com.

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