Sauteed Purslane Sounds Divine

Sea purslane

I’ve recently discovered that mangroves and seagrass are not the only coastal plants worth noting.  Florida’s dunes and shorelines host a large variety of beautiful plants, some of which are edible.  I’ve noted before that if I were ever lost in the wilds of the Indian River Lagoon I could nibble on glasswort and saltwort. Well, they’re not the only gourmet choices up on the lagoon trekker menu. 

Sea purslane is another succulent low-growing seaside plant that is edible for humankind and packs a much less salty punch than saltwort.  Think lightly seasoned green beans instead of dill pickles.  In fact, I’m rather interested to know if sea purslane could be sauteed up with some butter and pepper for a side dish. 

Now I’m getting hungry. 

Interestingly, several sources (including Witheringtons’ 2007 Florida’s Living Beaches) note that sea purslane is sold in Asian markets as a veggie with historical usage to prevent scurvy and kidney trouble.

If you’re enterprising enough to want to hunt and gather your next IRL meal of glasswort, sea purslane, raw oyster, and seaweed salad (especially Enteromorpha), I should warn you that there are a few plants that look a bit like sea purslane but aren’t.

The worst of these are the sandmats, all of which contain a milky latex substance in their leaves and stalks. Ingesting it causes nausea and vomiting and contacting it with your skin and eyes can cause inflammation.  Personally, I dont even touch this stuff. 

Southern Prickly Pear

Now if you’re tired of salty vegetables on your survivalist table in most coastal areas you could attempt to hunt down the fruits of prickly pear which usually appear at this time of year.  The above specimen doesn’t have any, sadly, but then again you really shouldn’t be eating the fruits of southern prickly pear.  (Wait, am I contradicting myself?)

Why not?  Southern prickly pear is considered threatened in Florida.  Plus it’s food for gopher tortoises, which are another critter with populations in flux in this state.  Lets face it, they need the pears more than you and I probably do.  I’ll stick to the Bartlett’s in the grocery store.