Forage Albuquerque

In season through

Native range:


Verdolagas or purslane is an ephemeral succulent that grows with the monsoon rains. It's highly regarded in traditional New Mexican cooking and a component of indigenous diets throughout the world.

Its flavor changes throughout the day: it tastes tart and fresh when picked in the morning.

It's delicious raw on sandwiches or in salads. It's also excellent stir-fried, or it can thicken soups with its mucilaginous quality! Slime-haters fear not, it's not as slimy as okra or nopales.

Harvested verdolagas

Don't mix it up with spurge! That's a similar looking plant that is mildly toxic. Spurge leaves are smaller and less succulent, and the plant leaks a milky sap.

Nor should it be confused it with the broader leaves of the similar-looking but unrelated horsepurslane (Trianthema portulacastrum). Horsepurslane is marginally edible but undelicious.

Verdolagas is found almost everywhere in the world, and predates Columbus in the Americas.

Verdolagas has a desert adaptation unique among all plants: it switches photosynthesis modes depending on conditions between C4 photosynthesis (used by amaranth, tumbleweeds and many grass species for rapid growth) and CAM photosysnthesis (used by cacti and most succulents for water conservation), allowing it to grow rapidly or conserve water depending on conditions.