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ORRIN MORRIS: The prolific purslane makes it a pest in the garden

"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 American Indian 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"?

Let us examine a wildflower, yellow purslane, that has benefited humankind around the world for many centuries.YELLOW PURSLANE

Portulaca oleraceaThis is a sprawling plant with thick reddish branches that run about 12 inches along the ground. The leaves are alternate rather than paired. They are smooth, thick and fleshy, measuring between - to 1- inch long. Their shapes reminds me of a serving spoon or spatula.

The blossoms are a pale yellow about -inch in 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, according to Frank D. Venning in "Wildflowers of North America, A Guide to Field Identification."

Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. Notecards are available of the wildflowers published in the Citizen. His e-mail is odmsketchingpad@yahoo.com or call him at 770-929-3697.