Apparently all answers are right.
Portulaca is the general name for an annual, sun-loving and low flowering plant that has different species. There is portulaca grandiflora - the flower plant, and there is portulaca oleracea - the weed, herb and vegetable.
Portulaca grandiflora is also commonly known as 'moss rose' or 'carpet rose', but I've always known it as 'japanese rose'. Some species has single layer flower petals while some others may have multi-layer petals. The flowers come in a multitude of different colours and they are just beautiful grown in wide and shallow pots or as edging plant in the garden.
On the other hand, portulaca oleracea refers to the weed, herb and veggie variety. Other known names are purslane, pigweed, verdolaga, little hogweed and pusley. In the United States, edible portulaca or purslane is categorized as weed. This is a contrast to other parts of the world. It is recognized as a herb in some European countries like France where it is most commonly used for salads. In Asian countries like India and Malaysia and in many places throughout the African continent, purslane is a much-loved vegetable.
Despite its myriad of names and categorization, portulaca oleracea is better known as 'sayur beremi' ('sayur' meaning vegetable) in Malaysia. This vegetable is pretty much 'off the grid' in terms of its popularity as compared to other everyday vegetables. But any true Peranakan person who is born and bred in Melaka - place of Peranakan culture historical roots - would have known and eaten this vegetable. I guess its 'popularity' is more inclined towards non-urban folks. It isn't sold in any of the supermarkets in the city, especially not in a place like Kuala Lumpur, but just maybe (JUST MAYBE!) it can be found sold by Malay traders at wholesale markets on the outskirts of the city.
Sayur beremi brings so much fond memories to me. As the youngest child in the family, I often tagged along my Mom wherever she went and the memories of us picking this veggie together is indelible. My family was living in a charming seaside village by the Straits of Melaka during my childhood. I remember there was a house by the shore line that has purslane growing abundantly in the sandy soil outside. My Mom and I would go with an empty colander or plastic bag and both of us would come home with lots of this wonderful veggie! We were living just five minutes' walk away. Village folks back then were really generous people and the purslane plants were free for anyone's picking!
Purslane is said to contain a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy veggies. It is also known to be very beneficial for the lungs, especially for those who smoke. Purslane has a delicate bitter taste but other than that, it is simply delicious stir-fried with some spicy chilli paste.
Read here on wiki if you would like to know a host of other benefits this modest veggie (or weed!) presents.
This is purslane (edible portulaca) or 'sayur beremi' as we call it in Malaysia.
This huge bunch costs only RM1.00 at the morning market in Melaka Sentral. My brother-in-law bought 3 bunches two weekends ago to feed my big family as most of us were back in our hometown Melaka for 'cheng beng' (Chinese All Souls' day).
We spent the morning picking and choosing the leaves, discarding the bottom fibrous stems.
This is all rinsed and ready for the wok.
Out of the wok...this is how we love our portulaca, weed or not! Mmmm...tasty!
1 big bunch of purslane/'sayur beremi'
4-5 pips garlic
4-5 large red chillies
25 g dried prawns (soak in water for 15 minutes, rinsed once and drain off the water)
1/4 cup cooking oil
- Pound or blend shallots, chillies and dried prawns together.
- Heat oil in a wok.
- Saute the blended paste for 8-10 minutes on low to medium heat until it is fragrant.
- Put in purslane and stir fry on medium to high heat until the veggie is all cooked through.
- A little salt may be added but the dried prawns is already salty.
Last but not least, below are 2 species of my portulaca, the flower plant variety. These are not edible. The first two pictures is of the same plant and the leaves look similar with purslane, the edible portulaca. The last picture has needle-like leaves with multi-layer flower.