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Ethnobotany of purslane (Portulaca oleracea L.) in Italy and morphobiometric analyses of seeds from archaeological sites in the Emilia Romagna Region (Northern Italy).

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Abstract

Il presente lavoro, dopo un breve quadro tassonomico di Portulaca oleracea L., fornisce una sintesi delle informazioni etnobotaniche sulla specie in Italia e i risultati delle analisi morfobiometriche su semi di porcellana rinvenuti in diversi siti archeologici (dal Periodo Romano all’Evo Moderno) in Emilia Romagna (Nord Italia); queste analisi tendono a rilevare la presenza/assenza nel tempo delle due sottospecie P. oleracea subsp. oleracea (forma spontanea) e P. oleracea subsp. sativa (forma coltivata), per meglio comprendere il rapporto uomo/porcellana nel corso dei secoli.
Portulaca oleracea L., purslane, was well known in
the classical world for its multiple uses. Purslane
produces capsules containing several small seeds
invested by a robust integument; they are usually well
preserved and frequently occur in archaeological sites in
the Emilia Romagna Region, since the Bronze Age
(Monte Leoni, Parma - Ammerman et al. 1976): their
identification does not leave any doubt, due to their
particular morphology (Beijerinck 1947; Berggren 1981;
Cappers et al. 2006; Davis 1993; Delorit 1970; Martin
and Barkley 2000; Schoch et al. 1988; Viggiani and
Angelini 2002). Purslane is currently considered very
interesting from a food point of view (van Wyk 2005), so
much that it is included in the list of “World Economic
Plants” (Wiersema and León 1999). The National
Institute of Rural Sociology comprises Portulaca
oleracea within the category of “regional herbs” of the
Emilia Romagna Region (Picchi and Pieroni 2005) and
it is cultivated as a medicinal plant in the Garden of
Casola Valsenio (Ravenna) (Ferrari 1987).
Archaeological-ethnobotanical implications of this plant
can be demonstrated furnishing an exact meaning to the
presence of its seeds in archaeological deposits: are these
the documentation that Portulaca was a synanthropic
plant or that it was a plant precultivated/cultivated by
man?
Purslane: taxonomical description
Portulaca oleracea L. (Portulacaceae) is a
cosmopolitan species (Danin and Reyes-Betancourt
2006), whose status of native of Italy is doubtful
(Pignatti 1982). The following botanical forms are
recognised: a) four subspecies/species growing
spontaneously; b) another subspecies growing
spontaneously (invasive – weeds – in irrigated cultures,
and ruderal in inhabited areas), i.e. P. oleracea subsp.
oleracea (= P. oleracea var. sylvestris DC.), with a prone
form (fig. 1); c) a cultivated subspecies (often growing
in wilds) i.e. P. oleracea subsp. sativa (Haw.) Celak.,
with a suberect form and ascending stems (fig. 2)
(Pignatti 1982; Riccieri and Arrigoni 2000; Walters
1993). The site of origin is not known for a certainty and
several temperate areas of the Northern Hemisphere are
proposed (Haudricourt and Hedin 1993): Eurasia, in
particular Southern Europe (Walters 1993), Europe,
Western Asia, China (Schoch et al. 1988), India, but also
sub-desert areas of Northern Africa, which could explain
the succulent aspect of the plant (Holm et al. 1977). A
similar uncertain regards the place and the time in which
the domestication of purslane occurred: it seems
originated in the Western Himalayan area, then spreaded
towards the South of Russia and Greece, perhaps as far
back as 4,000 years ago (De Candolle 1883), due to the
nutritional value of the plant and also its adaptability to
hostile environments (Holm et al. 1977; Bois 1927).
P. oleracea subsp. oleracea and P. oleracea subsp.
sativa are distinguished by several vegetative and floral
characteristics (Pignatti 1982; Salah and Chemli 2004;
Walters 1993), while the ornamentations of the seeds are
identical with differences in size, although modest. The
ornamentations are determined by rounded tubercles
arranged in a row, in a regular pattern, with scarce
papillae. The size of the seeds is larger in subsp. sativa
(average size 1.2 mm; ± 0.07 S.D.) with respect to subsp.
oleracea (average sizes 0.86-0.87 mm; ± 0.03 to 0.06
mm S.D.), depending on the populations (Danin et al.
129
Ethnobotany of purslane (Portulaca oleracea L.) in Italy
and morphobiometric analyses of seeds from archaeological sites
in the Emilia Romagna Region (Northern Italy)
Giovanna BOSI1, Paolo Maria GUARRERA 2, Rossella RINALDI1and Marta BANDINI MAZZANTI1
1Department of Palaeobiology and the Botanic Garden Museum, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia
2 National Museum of Folk Traditions, Rome
Riassunto
Il presente lavoro, dopo un breve quadro tassonomico di Portulaca oleracea L., fornisce una sintesi delle informazioni etnobo-
taniche sulla specie in Italia e i risultati delle analisi morfobiometriche su semi di porcellana rinvenuti in diversi siti archeolo-
gici (dal Periodo Romano all’Evo Moderno) in Emilia Romagna (Nord Italia); queste analisi tendono a rilevare la
presenza/assenza nel tempo delle due sottospecie P. oleracea subsp. oleracea (forma spontanea) e P. oleracea subsp. sativa
(forma coltivata), per meglio comprendere il rapporto uomo/porcellana nel corso dei secoli.
Plants and Culture: seeds of the cultural heritage of Europe - © 2009 · Edipuglia s.r.l. - www.edipuglia.it
ETHNOBOTANY OF PURSLANE (PORTULACA OLERACEA L.) IN THE EMILIA ROMAGNA REGION
1978; Riccieri and Arrigoni 2000). Other biometric data
(again concerning fresh seeds, generically attributed to
Portulaca oleracea) are accompanied by descriptions
that seem to indicate either one or the other subspecies:
the sizes reported by Delorit (1970) and by Davis (1993),
respectively 0.6-0.9 and 0.7-0.8 mm, could be referred to
subsp. oleracea, while those of Schoch et al. (1988)
seem to include the cultivated subspecies (0.7-1.1 mm).
In relation to the morphobiometry of the seeds, Danin et
al. (1978) affirm that subsp. sativa developed in the Old
World through anthropic selection (Riccieri and Arrigoni
2000) from subsp. oleracea, the most common in
Eurasia (Zohary 1973). Subsp. sativa could, therefore,
be considered a landrace or a “form” of the other
subspecies (Danin et al. 1978; Thulin 1993). Salah and
Chemli (2004) studied the phenotypic variability of
several Tunisian populations of Portulaca oleracea
subsp. sylvestris and of P. oleracea subsp. sativa, taking
in consideration many morphological characters and
hypothesizing that the detected differences were due to
better and more stable growth conditions of the
cultivated plants. The species is practically ubiquitary,
endowed with great morpho-cito-physiologic plasticity
(Mattews et al. 1993; Zimmerman 1976), and it is not
very demanding from edaphic and hydric points of view.
It shows a rapid growth (Bois 1927) and feature
mechanisms that facilitate its propagation, making it a
weed hardly eliminable. Purslane prefers a fertile, rich,
sandy soil (Häflinger and Brun-Holl 1981), but also
settle for poor, arid soil. This adaptability has led it to
success and popularity since ancient times.
To evaluate the quantitative significance of Portulaca
seeds in archaeological strata, it is useful to remember
that seed production of these plants is very high (one
plant can introduce up to 10,000 seeds to the
environment (Holm et al. 1977) and the productivity is
similar in the two subspecies (Salah and Chemli 2004).
Purslane: etymology, historical notes, and ethno -
botanical situation in Italy
In the Linneian binomial, Portulaca derives from the
Latin, portula = little door, perhaps from the type of
dehiscence of the fruit (pyxidium - Spijut 1994), while
olera = vegetable, indicates the diffuse use as food of
this species in the Classical World (Gallino 2001). Proof
of the multiple uses and the wide geographic spread of
purslane lies in the variety of common names attributed
to it, with differences in word roots, according to the
variou linguistic stocks from which they derive
(Hernández Bermejo and León 1994). The common
130
1. - Wild purslane (Mattioli 1568). 2. - Cultivated purslane (Mattioli 1568).
Plants and Culture: seeds of the cultural heritage of Europe - © 2009 · Edipuglia s.r.l. - www.edipuglia.it
Italian name, “porcellana”, is also different from the
Italian dialectal names that derive from the Latin term
used by Pliny (1st cent. A.D.), porcilaca, perhaps due to
its meaning: an “herb liked by pigs”, with the root, lac
= milk, which seems underline the mucilagenous content
found in the plant. The variety of common names
corresponds to the vast range of uses to which it has been
destined by man in the past.
Several dialectal names from various Regions of
Italy (fig. 3)
1. Abruzzo: porcacchia, precacchia (Penzig 1924)
priccachiune grasse, pricacchie (Tammaro 1984), per-
cacchie, porcacchie, precacchie (Manzi 1999); 2.
Basilicata: perchiacca (Penzig 1924); 3. Calabria:
porcillana, purciddana, porcejane, andraca, andrachi
(Penzig 1924); 4. Campania: porchiacca, perchiac-
chella, purchiacchello, porcellana, chiaccunella
(Penzig 1924), erva vasciulella (De Feo et al. 1991),
purchiacchella (De Feo et al. 1992); 5. Emilia
Romagna: erba grassa, purzlana, porzlana (Penzig
1924); 6. Friuli-Venezia Giulia: gràssule (Penzig
1924); 7. Lazio: purchiacchia, porcacchia, pircacchia,
percàcchie, erba grassa (Guarrera 1994); 8. Liguria:
purselana, erba purselana, porsellanna, persulaua,
porselana, erba gnàgnoa (Penzig 1924); 9. Lombardy:
porselana, porselaga, erba grassa (Penzig 1924); 10.
Marche: porcinacchia, sportelacchia (Penzig 1924)
pulcinacchia, purcinàcchia (Guarrera 1990); 11.
Molise: porcacchia, precacchia (Penzig 1924); 12.
Piedmont: porslana, purslane (Penzig 1924),
pourslana, pourselane (Mattirolo 1918), puirsclana,
pursclanna, pursclenna, purslana, purslòna, biun,
èrba grasa, èrba dal purchèt/di purchit, èrba pur-
catèra, èrba purchétera (Sella 1992); 13. Puglia: pric-
chiazzi (Penzig 1924); 14. Sardinia: porzelana,
barzellana, porceddana, pulsallana (Penzig 1924); 15.
Sicily: gamaruneddu marinu, purciddana, purciaca,
prucciaca (Penzig 1924), burdulaca, cucciara, pircid-
dana, pucciddana, puccillana (Lentini and Venza
2007); 16. Tuscany: porcellana, erba porcellana,
sportellacchia, porcacchia, procaccia, procacchia,
andracne, erba da porci, erba grassa, erba porcacchia
(Penzig 1924); 17. Trentino Alto Adige: porzelàne
(Dalla Fior 1969); 18. Umbria: procacchia, porcac-
chia (in verbis); 19. Aosta Valley/; 20. Veneto: porcel-
lana salbèga (Penzig 1924).
Active ingredients and known properties
All the parts of this plant have medicinal properties:
from the roots to the stem, from the leaves to the seeds
(Bois 1927; Gastaldo 1987; Lieutaghi 1992). According
to Duke (2002), the purslane plant has very important
effects in the medicinal field (approximatively 30
different biological activities and over 60 medicinal
indications concerning the plant), and he considers it a
“medicinal food” to consume like spinach. Portulaca
oleracea contains betanidin-5-0-allobioside, iso -
betanidin-5-0-allobioside, ferulic acid, betacyanin
acylate (Imperato 1975). Gastaldo (1987) and
Schauenberg and Paris (1977) report the presence of
quercetin, quercitrin, sitosteringlucoside, oleracin,
campherol, cyanidin, dopamine, noradrenalin, oxalic
acid, calcium oxalate, and sugars. Tammaro (1984) also
cites saponin, mucilage, and Vitamin C. Caneva et al.
(1998) recognize in this plant proteins, fatty acids,
aspartic acid, glutamic acid, citric acid, and oxalic acid,
as well as fair amounts of Vitamins A, B6, and C,
potassium, magnesium, sodium, and sulphur. Purslane
has also been discovered to be rich in omega-3 type
polyunsaturated fatty acids (Ezekwe et al. 1999) and, for
this reason, it was introduced in the diet of US citizens,
in order to counteract the intake of fatty acids derived
from fast foods (Picchi and Pieroni 2005).
Purslane in treatments
Because of its medicinal properties, Purslane is
mentioned by Dioscorides (1st cent. A.D.) with the name
andracne, also used by Pliny (1st cent. A.D.) (Massonio
1627). More specifically, Pliny, who considered it a
veritable panacea, describes the plant in Book 20 of the
Naturalis Historia, dedicated to the benefits of
vegetables in medicine. Classical authors attributed to
purslane analgesic, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, emol -
GIOVANNA BOSI, PAOLO MARIA GUARRERA, ROSSELLA RINALDI, MARTA BANDINI MAZZANTI
131
3. - Italian Regions (see list dialectal names of purslane).
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ETHNOBOTANY OF PURSLANE (PORTULACA OLERACEA L.) IN THE EMILIA ROMAGNA REGION
lient, soothing, anti-fever, vermifugal, and
anaphrodisiac properties, often citing its mucilaginous
content. These plant’s therapeutic uses continue to be
found during the Middle Ages and during the
Renaissance period (for ex. Hildegard - 12th cent.;
Mattioli - 16th cent.), often accompanied by esoteric
implications (Cattabiani 1996), linking the plant to
magical proprieties (Cunningham 1992). The use of
purslane was also disparaged by someone, like
Hildegard of Bingen (Physica, LXXIV) and Michele
Savonarola, a physician from Padua (Italy) from the 15th
cent. A.D. (Libreto de tutte le cose che se manzano
comunemente - “Book of all the things that are
commonly eaten”), while Castore Durante (Herbario,
LVIII) recommended its use, but in a moderate manner
(Ballerini 2008). English physician Nicholas Culpeper
(17th cent. A.D.) believed the seeds to be more effective
that the leaves (Ballerini 2008) and, at times, to have
cosmetic properties (for example using the leaves to
brush the teeth: Sella 1992). It was also used in
veterinary medicine. In the 18th century, the juice of the
plant, mixed with red roses, was given to horses as a
fever treatment (Atzei 2003). Many of the properties
attributed to purslane in the past have subsequently been
confirmed, attested by modern phytochemical studies.
The plant’s properties include: muscle relaxant, anti-
convulsive, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory, with also
a potential anti-anxiety effect (Chan et al. 2000;
Radhakrishnan et al. 2001). Recently, the content of
bioactive catecholamine, noradrenalin, and dopamine
in Portulaca oleracea was investigated and, in the light
of these recent studies, the expression “plant of long
life” attributed to purslane in Chinese tradition, seems
to be actually appropriate (Chen et al. 2003).
Uses in popular medicine in Italian Regions
For the Friuli Region, Appi et al. (1979) mention the
diuretic properties of the herb in soups with leeks and
nettles, while Coassini Lokar and Poldini (1988) report
the diuretic effect of its decoction. In the Lazio Region,
skin rashes and pimples or boils were cured with
compresses obtained by purslane infusions, and the herb
was also eaten to cure reddened gums (Guarrera 1994).
In the Abruzzo Region, the leaves were applied to the
forehead and temples to relieve headaches (Tammaro
1984). In the Campania Region, the infusion was known
for its vermifugal properties and, poultices obtained by
decoction were applied to the stomach to treat gastric
acid (De Feo et al. 1991). Many uses were indicated in
the Sardinia Region: the juice from the leaves was
deemed useful for urinary inflammations and the
infusion is still believed to be a diuretic. The herb was
considered a treatment for scurvy in the 18th cent. A.D.
and was eaten raw as an analgesic for gastric, intestinal
and kidney pain, or it was cooked and eaten as a cure for
worms, haemorrhoids and haemoptysis. The juice was
drunk as a fever remedy and an anaphrodisiac. Deemed
vulnerary during the 18th cent. A.D., it was chewed to
cure mouth and gum ulcers, as well as toothaches. It was
also used to calm eye inflammations and St. Anthony’s
Fire, as an analgesic for headaches, bladder pains, raspy
voice, and was also known as a foot corn remedy (Atzei
2003). An infusion of its seeds and leaves was drunk in
case of dysentery and urogenital infections, while
compresses were used for eye inflammations and the
fresh leaves were applied with corn flour to wounds to
prevent gangrene (Ballero and Fresu 1993).
Purslane as food
Both subspecies are edible (all parts of the whole
plant, including the seeds, can be used), and have
similar comestible characteristics, usable both for
humans (van Wyk 2005) and for animals (in particular,
it is given to pigs, which eat it avidly: Atzei 2003; Sella
1992; Guarrera et al. 2004; at Sassari-Sardinia, it is
given to rabbits: Atzei 2003; while the seeds, at Tolfa-
Lazio, are used as bird feed: Guarrera 1994). The herb,
which is tossed in a pan with garlic and oil, has a taste
that resembles pork meat (Picchi and Pieroni 2005). Ac -
cording to different classical authors, it was one of the
leafy vegetables (from both spontaneous plants, as well
as cultivated ones) eaten in Italy during the 1st cent. A.D.
(Pitrat and Foury 2003). Varrone praised its dietary
virtues (Arcidiacono and Pavone 1994). Pliny also
discussed purslane in Book 19 of Naturalis Historia,
which deals with vegetable gardening: «There are plants
that must be sown together: poppies with cabbage and
purslane, arugula with lettuce». The context and citation
is in line with its status of horticultural plant. Columella
(1st cent. A.D.), in Book 12 of De Re Rustica, indicates
a recipe for preserving purslane (the plant was picked in
autumn, then cleaned and put in the shade to dry. After
four days, it was then stored in jars, whose bases were
covered with a layer of salt on top of which the purslane
was placed, after which vinegar and more salt were
added). The recipe, enriched with verjuice and fennel,
was also used for the same purpose and used during the
1500’s in France (Ducomet 1917), since the species
does not dry out and cannot be desiccated. The use of
purslane as food, specifically a leafy vegetable, is
known throughout the Middle Ages (it was cultivated
in monasteries - Arcidiacono and Pavone 1994) and it
strongly developed from the 13th cent. until the
beginning of the 19th cent. A.D. (Ducomet 1917; Pitrat
and Foury 2003). In the past, it was a very useful food
for ship crews, who often suffered from scurvy (Lentini
and Venza 2007). In Italy, purslane was sold as a
common vegetable in the markets: Francesco Balducci
Pegolotti (14th cent. A.D.), a travelling merchant from
Florence, included it in the list of products sold by
132
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Italian merchants. Purslane was, above all, used as a
cooked or raw vegetable (Castelvetro 1614; De
Rougemont 1990), and its seeds were used as
condiments/aromas, as those of the Papaver
somniferum L. The young leaves and stems, when raw,
have a very strong flavour, hence the tradition of using
them with other types of greens or for flavouring olives,
capers, sauces, and soups. Also Castelvetro (16th cent.
A.D.), in his Breve racconto di tutte le radici di tutte
l’erbe e di tutti i frutti che crudi o cotti in Italia si
mangiano (“Brief stories of all the roots of the all herbs
and of all the fruits that are eaten, raw or cooked, in
Italy”), states that the purslane plant was used in salads,
either alone or with other greens, and recommends it be
served with finely chopped onions and pepper, to take
the ‘edge’ off the plant. Costanzo Felici (16th cent.
A.D.), a physician and naturalist, author of a treatise on
edible plants, reports that the herb was often eaten in
salads with basil, onions, cucumbers, and other
vegetables. The plants growing in vegetable gardens,
develop large leaves and branches, unlike from those of
the wild plants, which were much smaller. Even at the
beginning of the twentieth century, it was still
“universally used in salads” and was also good when
“eaten cooked, like spinach” (Mattirolo 1918) and for
its mucilaginous consistency was used in thickening
soups and stews (Luciano et al. 2008). In various parts
of Italy, it was also eaten deep fried in oil, or in a batter
made from flour, eggs, and bread crumbs, sautéed in a
pan, or boiled. It can also be preserved in vinegar, like
capers, and the more succulent stems, if cut up, can be
pickled (Arcidiacono and Pavone 1994). No tried and
true market for this plant exists today, in Italy, although
it is considered an horticultural plant (Bianco and
Pimpini 1990), except in some locality in Central Italy
(Picchi and Pieroni 2005). It is, instead, sold in France,
the largest producer of its horticultural forms
(Arcidiacono and Pavone 1994), in Spain, and in other
Mediterranean basin countries, as well as in India,
Eastern Asia, Mexico and, just recently, in the US
(Palaniswamy et al. 2001).
As previously said, the use of purslane in human diet
is attributable to more than one reason: the plant is rich
in minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, beta carotene, and
Vitamins E and C. (Hernández Bermejo and León 1992;
Guil et al. 1997; Turan et al. 2003). In particular, Turan
et al. (2003) include purslane among those edible leaf
species with a greater variety of proteins, N, K, Ca, and
Mg than other, more common, vegetables, such as
spinach, lettuce, and cabbage. However, among leafy
garden vegetables, its main quality is that is the richest
in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants (Ezekwe et al.
1999; Liu et al. 2000; Palaniswamy et al. 2001),
therefore, better than traditional grown vegetables (Liu
et al. 2000). In fact, these factors are well-known for
reducing the epidemiologic levels of cardiovascular
illnesses and neoplasia. It might not be by chance that
minor incidences of these serious symptomologies have
been registered in countries in the Mediterranean area
(Greece and Lebanon), where the consumption of
Portulaca is more common (Ezekwe et al. 1999). Recent
studies have compared several cultivar of P. subsp.
sativa with geographically different populations of P.
subsp. oleracea, maintained in controlled conditions.
However, the results demonstrated that, whether wild or
cultivated, purslane has the rare capacity to increase
essential fatty acids, with a process that is not yet well
known (Ezekwe et al. 1999).
Use in foods in Italian Regions
In the Piedmont Region, this plant was eaten in
salads, cooked (like spinach), but believed best eaten
with oil and vinegar. Since it has a delayed vegetation
period, purslane did not appear in spring salads
(Mattirolo 1918); Sella (1992) refers to the use of its
leaves and leafy stems, picked before the plant
blossomed, in salads or soups, and that the herb was not
liked by everyone due to its moist, sticky consistency. In
the Friuli Region, the boiled leaves were kept in oil,
garnished with chopped garlic, anchovies, and
breadcrumbs, then cooked au gratin (Appi et al. 1979).
In the Marche Region, it is still eaten in mixed salads
(Guarrera 1990). On the coast of Ancona, several
restaurants decorate fish dishes with the herb or use it as
a side dish (Picchi and Pieroni 2005). In the Lazio
Region, it is added to salads, because of the refreshing
and diuretic proprieties it is attributed. In Ciociaria, it is
often used in salads with anchovies (Guarrera 1994). In
the Abruzzo Region, the leafy tops are eaten in salads
(Tammaro 1984). Manzi (1999) noted that in vegetable
gardens, it was cultivated up to the 19th cent. A.D. In the
Campania Region, the herb – used in salads – was
known as an excellent diuretic and bland laxative (De
Feo et al. 1992). Also in the Basilicata Region, Caneva
et al. (1998) report the use of the raw tender leaves in
mixed salads, which give it a typical, slightly sour
flavour, but they warn that the presence of oxalic acid
could make its use toxic if eaten in large amounts. In
the Sardinia Region, the leaves are eaten in mixed
salads with vinegar, cooked, or pickled (Atzei 2003). In
the Calabria Region, in the Crotonese area, it is
common to pickle the aerial parts of this plant with
methods that resemble those indicated by Columella
(Picchi and Pieroni 2005). In Sicily, cooked use of this
plant is often mentioned (Picchi and Pieroni 2005),
while Lentini and Venza (2007) report the use of this
tender plant in salads with tomatoes, capers, and
cucumbers or as a delicious ingredient in soups. In
Bronte, plants without signs of blooming (not even a
bulb or fructification) are deemed excellent to eat in
GIOVANNA BOSI, PAOLO MARIA GUARRERA, ROSSELLA RINALDI, MARTA BANDINI MAZZANTI
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ETHNOBOTANY OF PURSLANE (PORTULACA OLERACEA L.) IN THE EMILIA ROMAGNA REGION
salads with oil, vinegar, and salt (Arcidiacono et al.
2003). On Etna, the use of young unbloomed tops is not
very common, due to their salty flavour and
unappetising mucilaginous consistency, which could
nevertheless be used to thicken broths (Arcidiacono and
Pavone 1994).
Purslane: particular properties
Currently, while on the one hand, Portulaca oleracea
could be considered a fastidious, invasive species in
cultivated environments, on the other, it is important in
natural wastewater management, because of its
resistance to salinity and its capacity to purify (Grieve
and Suarez 1997).
From the mucilaginous content of its stems and
leaves, already cited by classical authors, a gum (POG)
can now be extracted. This gum does not have a viscose
consistency, it is soluble in water, and stable emulsions
can be obtained from it. The results suggest various
possibilities for the use of POG in food, pharmaceutical,
and industrial preparations (Garti et al. 1999).
Purslane in the Emilia Romagna Region through
archaeobotanical data
In archaeological sites in the Emilia Romagna
Region, Portulaca oleracea seeds are frequent
archeobotanical findings in various types of deposits
ranging from the Roman Period to the Modern Age
(Bosi and Bandini Mazzanti 2007). As already
mentioned, it is extremely interesting to establish
whether these findings can be attributed to synanthropic
plants or plants that were picked and/or grown by man
for food or curative purposes.
Morphobiometric analysis of the seeds
The morphological analysis were performed with a
Wild M10 stereomicroscope (up to 100x magnification)
and a Nikon Digital Sight DS-5M (NIS - Element f
2.20). Images of the findings were acquired with ImageJ
and the measurements of the largest diameter of intact,
non-combusted seeds were obtained (sensu Danin et al.
1978).
The morphological characteristics of the tegument of
the Portulaca seeds are similar in all layers, in all
periods, and are ascribed to P. oleracea subsp. oleracea
and P. oleracea subsp. sativa (sensu Danin et al. 1978).
Roman Period
Due to the scarce number of seeds per site, these
findings were not measured (Bosi and Bandini Mazzanti
2007).
Medieval and Renaissance Periods
Seeds from 11 contexts were analysed and measured,
dated from the 10th and 16th cent. A.D., ascribable to 7
sites (fig. 4), with the rule of a maximum of 50 seeds per
layer applied for measurement purposes.
A - S. Agata (Bologna) - Nuova Geovis - inhabited
defensive ditches - outdoors (2 layers) (10th-11th cent.
A.D.) (Bosi et al. in press)
B.1 - Ferrara - corso Porta Reno/via Vaspergolo -
suburban vegetable garden rubbish dumps - outdoors (6
layers) (second half 10th-first half 11th cent. A.D.) (Bosi
2000; Bosi et al. in litteris)
B.2 - Ferrara - corso Porta Reno/via Vaspergolo -
craft industry area garbage dump - outdoors (3 layers)
(second half 11th-first half 12th cent. A.D.) (Bosi 2000)
C - Parma - Piazza Repubblica - city market area
rubbish dumps - outdoors (2 layers) (12th-13th cent. A.D.)
(Bosi et al. 2002, in litteris)
D.1 - Argenta (Ferrara) - via Vinarola/Aleotti -
requalified canal - outdoors (6 layers) (1275 - 1325
A.D.) (Bandini Mazzanti et al. 1999)
B.3 - Ferrara - corso Porta Reno/via Vaspergolo -
urban centre rubbish dump - outdoors (2 layers) (end
14th-beginning 15th cent. A.D.) (Bosi 2000)
B.4 - Ferrara - corso Porta Reno/via Vaspergolo -
stone tub for waste (housing area) - indoors (4 layers)
(mid-14th-end 15th cent. A.D.) (Bandini Mazzanti et al.
2005)
E - Lugo (Ravenna) - Piazza Baracca - stone tub for
waste (craft industry area) - indoors (1 layer) (15th cent.
A.D.) (Bosi et al. in litteris)
F - Ferrara - Piazza Municipale - stone tub for waste
from the Ducal Palace - indoors (1 layer) (second half
15th cent. A.D.) (Bosi et al. 2009)
G - Ferrara - Monastery of S. Antonio - contents of
a mug - indoors (1 layer) (15th-16th cent. A.D.) (Bandini
Mazzanti et al. 2006; Romagnoli et al. 2007)
D.2 - Argenta (Ferrara) - via Vinarola/Aleotti -
latrine from the Monastery of S. Caterina - indoors - (2
layers) (16th cent. A.D.) (Mercuri et al. 1999)
134
4. - Archaeobotanical records of purslane in the Emilia Romagna
Region; sites of Medieval and Renaissance Periods.
Plants and Culture: seeds of the cultural heritage of Europe - © 2009 · Edipuglia s.r.l. - www.edipuglia.it
Results and discussion
Roman Period
Direct and indirect proof shows that the few Roman
seeds found do not attest to precultivation/cultivation,
nor to use (even though this would have been compatible
with historic/literary sources), but are random
documentations of the purslane weed in urban and
cultivated environments (Bosi and Bandini Mazzanti
2007).
Medieval and Renaissance Periods
The results are shown in tab.1 where, for every class
of size (created on the basis of data by Danin et al.
1978), the frequent percentage of the seeds was
indicated. One photo of a seed appears in fig. 5.
Early Middle Ages
In the three contexts, all outdoors (A, B.1 and B.2),
the size of the seeds does not indicate P. oleracea subsp.
sativa, and we cannot exclude that the purslane plant was
already used by man for food purposes. This could be
true, especially for B.1, given the high percentage of
seeds with intermediate sizes within the framework of
the garden suburban zone.
Late Middle Ages
In the two contexts, both outdoors (Cand D.1), the
situation remains practically unchanged, with respect to
the previous historical period. It is, however, interesting
to underline that in site C(city market area garbage
dump, in the historical centre of Parma), along with the
seeds, Portulaca pollen was also found, which would
prove, with certainty, the presence of these plants in loco
(given the scarce pollen productivity of the species and
the large size of the entomophilous pollen, a rare finding
in palynological analysis, and very localized (Bosi et al.
2002 and in litteris).
Between the Late Middle Ages and the Renaissance
During this transitional stage, there are almost two
contemporaneous contexts from the same site in Ferrara
centre city, one outdoors (B.3) and one indoors (B.4). In
the latter, a waste tub for domestic waste pertaining to
the home of a middle-upper class family from Ferrara
(Bandini Mazzanti et al. 2005), there is probably the first
proof of the cultivated form of Portulaca oleracea.
From the Renaissance to the Modern Era
Among the four contexts (E, F, Gand D.2), all
indoors, two (Eand F) demonstrate the presence of
subsp. sativa, which reaches the highest percentage in
E. In the two most recent contexts (Gand D.2), the new
cultivated form disappears: the mug, from the
Benedictine Monastery of S. Antonio in Polesine (G), in
the historical centre of Ferrara, has a very poor floristic
content (5 taxa), limited to medicinal species, suggesting
a therapeutic use of the purslane plant (Bandini Mazzanti
et al. 2006; Romagnoli et al. 2007).
Seeds with a size located in the intermediate interval
between the two subspecies were already present in the
Early Middle Ages, in percentages similar and often
higher than those of the unquestionably spontaneous
form. This situation also persists in the Late Middles
Ages. Seeds of a size compatible with subsp. sativa
appear later on, between the 14th and 15th cent. A.D., in
closed urban deposits. Based on data by Danin et al.
(1978), we should conclude that, for the Emilia
Romagna Region, proofs of the presence of P. oleracea
subsp. sativa begin in the 15th cent. A.D., in co-existence
with P. oleracea subsp. oleracea. However, several
circumstances must be considered: a) the measurements
GIOVANNA BOSI, PAOLO MARIA GUARRERA, ROSSELLA RINALDI, MARTA BANDINI MAZZANTI
135
A B.1 B.2 C D.1 B.3 B.4 E F G D.2
outdoor outdoor outdoor outdoor outdoor outdoor indoor indoor indoor indoor indoor
10
th
-11
th
cent.
second half 10
th
-
first half 11
th
cent.
second half 11
th
-
first half 12
th
cent.
12
th
-13
th
cent. 1275-1325
end 14
th
-
beginning 15
th
cent.
half 14
th
- end
15
th
cent.
15
th
cent.
second half 15
th
cent. 15
th
-16
th
cent. 16
th
cent.
14 219 116 74 14 76 107 50 50 12 27
< = 0,93
Portulaca
oleracea L.
subsp. oleracea
50 39 58 43 50 28 34 4 28 75 41
0,94 - 1,12
intermediate size
50 61 42 57 50 72 64 90 70 25 59
> = 1,13
Portulaca
oleracea L.
subsp. sativa
\\ \ \\\ 262 \\
site
outdoor/indoor
chronology
measured seeds
Tab. 1 - Portulaca oleracea: percentages of the seeds according to their size and chronological phase.
5. - Portulaca oleracea subsp. sativa - seed (d. max 1.24 mm -
from site E) (photo by R. Rinaldi).
Plants and Culture: seeds of the cultural heritage of Europe - © 2009 · Edipuglia s.r.l. - www.edipuglia.it
ETHNOBOTANY OF PURSLANE (PORTULACA OLERACEA L.) IN THE EMILIA ROMAGNA REGION
taken by Danin et al. (1978) are referred to fresh seeds,
while we are concerned with sub-fossil seeds, without
embryo and endosperm or with very little residues of
them, which have undergone stress of various natures
caused by the time they remained in the deposit
environment and the procedures adopted during the
extraction process; b) the chronological interval between
the current seeds and the younger sub-fossils seeds is
approximately 500 years (the seeds are comprised
between approximately 1,000 and 500 years from the
present). It cannot be excluded that anthropic selection
continued to influence a plastic species like the
Portulaca oleracea over the last five centuries,
stabilising an increase in seed size in the cultivated
“form”. It could therefore be assumed that the seeds
pertaining to the intermediate interval also indicate the
cultivated form, or at least, plants on the way to
becoming it.
Conclusions
The archaebotanical findings show the possible
growth of the purslane plant in the Emilia Romagna
Region, from the Roman Period to the threshold of the
Modern Era. During the Early Middle Ages, in contrast
with the Roman Period, purslane seems to have taken on
the role of a plant that looked after man rather than that
of an invasive weed. During the Late Middle Ages, and
the first stages of the Modern Era, the purslane plant was
almost certainly a plant that was cultivated in gardens,
vegetable/fruit gardens, and vegetable gardens in
suburban and urban areas. Probably, the presence of
subsp. sativa can be attested in the 15th cent. A.D., even
though it cannot be excluded, given the high percentages
of the intermediate form, that the cultivated plants were
also present previously. The good/abundant presence of
Portulaca seeds in compartments set up as domestic
rubbish dumps sustains its use in human diets, as a
vegetable or as a condiment/aroma. The findings of the
mug from the Benedictine Monastery of S. Antonio in
Polesine, in Ferrara city centre’s old town, also appear to
attest its medicinal uses.
The archaeobotanical research can gainfully
accompany written and iconographic sources, furnishing
accurate, comparable data and, above all, tangible and
objective proof, through the seed/fruit remains, which
may also be useful for locally reconstructing the history
of the human/plant relationship.
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... It is reported that P. oleracea could change its metabolism to CAM after 21 days of exposure to drought stress. [13][14][15] Ethnopharmacology Purslane has many ethnopharmacological applications around the world to treat certain diseases. It is known that P. oleracea has many benefits as an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, anti-fever, vermifugal, antioxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-ulcerogenic and has wound healing properties. ...
... It is known that P. oleracea has many benefits as an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, anti-fever, vermifugal, antioxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-ulcerogenic and has wound healing properties. 14,21,22 This plant is consumed as a salad and traditional food in Italy for hundreds of years. 14,15 Processed P. oleracea in the form of juice is helpful for the swelling of male genitalia. ...
... 14,21,22 This plant is consumed as a salad and traditional food in Italy for hundreds of years. 14,15 Processed P. oleracea in the form of juice is helpful for the swelling of male genitalia. Besides, the mixture of purslane juice with honey can be used as a cough traditional medicine. ...
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The number of cases of obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is part of the metabolic syndrome case. Purslane (Portulaca oleracea L.) is a plant that has been clinically tested and has the potential to prevent and treat metabolic syndrome as well as pathogenic and pathophysiological activities that cause disease. The aim of this study is to discuss and conclude information regarding the activity and use of purslane (P. oleracea) as an antimetabolic. This review article is based on scientific publications found on Google Scholar and PubMed databases using the keywords of “Portulaca obesity”, “Portulaca overweight”, “Portulaca dyslipidemia”, and “Portulaca metabolic syndrome”. This plant acts on numerous pathways in the metabolic syndrome such as reduction of lipids, blood sugar, body weight and total cholesterol. Purslane (P. oleracea) can be used as a candidate for a new herbal plant as an anti-metabolic syndrome. Key words: Body weight, Portulaca oleracea, Insulin resistance, Metabolic syndrome, Obesity.
... Several authors have reviewed the phytochemical composition of purslane. It has been a part of indigenous healthcare systems across the continents (Xiang et al., 2005;Bosi et al., 2009;Sultana and Raheman, 2013;Hwess et al., 2018;Sdouga et al., 2020;Zaman et al., 2020). Many ethnobotanical studies have reported its use against multiple diseases and ailments (Ahmad and Beg, 2001;Bosi et al., 2009;Nedelcheva, 2013;Sultana and Raheman, 2013;Hwess et al., 2018;Chaachouay et al., 2019;Manzanero-Medina et al., 2020;Nanagulyan et al., 2020). ...
... It has been a part of indigenous healthcare systems across the continents (Xiang et al., 2005;Bosi et al., 2009;Sultana and Raheman, 2013;Hwess et al., 2018;Sdouga et al., 2020;Zaman et al., 2020). Many ethnobotanical studies have reported its use against multiple diseases and ailments (Ahmad and Beg, 2001;Bosi et al., 2009;Nedelcheva, 2013;Sultana and Raheman, 2013;Hwess et al., 2018;Chaachouay et al., 2019;Manzanero-Medina et al., 2020;Nanagulyan et al., 2020). Recent pharmacological studies also suggest its important medicinal benefits against a number of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and viral, bacterial, and fungal infections (Dong et al., 2010;Ye et al., 2015;Jin et al., 2017;Park and Han, 2018;Zhao et al., 2018;da Silva et al., 2019;Li et al., 2019;El-Desouky, 2021;Park et al., 2021;Tleubayeva et al., 2021). ...
... Traditional plants are also used for medicinal purposes in various parts of the world (Mahomoodally et al., 2012;Shikov et al., 2017;Kumar et al., 2019). As discussed, purslane is also one of the most important ethnomedicinal plants among various countries (Ross, 2003;Bosi et al., 2009;Iranshahy et al., 2017). The traditional food plants are regionally very important and local communities rely on them for their nutritional needs. ...
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Purslane (Portulaca oleracea L.) is a popular orphan crop used for its nutritional properties in various parts of the world. It is considered one of the richest terrestrial sources of omega-3 and omega-6-fatty acids (ω-3 and 6-FAs) suggesting its importance for human health. This ethnomedicinal plant is also an important part of traditional healing systems among the indigenous people. Many studies have indicated its tolerance against multiple stresses and found that it easily grows in a range of environmental gradients. It has also been considered as one of the important biosaline crops for the future. Despite its huge nutritional, economic, and medicinal importance, it remains neglected till date. Most of the studies on purslane were focused on its ethnomedicinal, phytochemical, pharmacological and stress tolerance properties. Only a few studies have attempted genetic dissection of the traits governing these traits. Purslane being an important traditional food crop across the globe can be valorized for a sustainable food security in the future. Therefore, this review is an attempt to highlight the distribution, domestication and cultivation of purslane and its importance as an important stress tolerant food and a biosaline crop. Furthermore, identification of genes and their functions governing important traits and its potential for improvement using genomics tools for smart and biosaline agriculture has been discussed.
... A known quantity of Lycopodium spores was added to each weighted sample in order to estimate pollen and non-pollen palynomorphs concentration (NPPs; Stockmarr 1971). Pollen identification was carried out using atlases (Reille 1992(Reille -1998Beug 2004). The features reported by Smit (1973) were used to distinguish oak pollen taxa. ...
... arvensis, Chenopodium album L., Chenopodiastrum murale, Echium plantagineum, Heliotropium europaeum, Malva nicaeensis All., Malva sp., Medicago sp., Silene cf. vulgaris, Sherardia arvensis, Veronica sp. and Portulaca oleracea L., the latter possibly cultivated also as a vegetable (Bosi et al. 2009;Pasta et al. 2020). Urtica membranacea and U. urens are also present, being typically found on nutrient-rich and disturbed ground, but occurring also as weeds of woody crops (van Zeist et al. 2001). ...
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The present study concerns the Phoenician-Punic site of Motya, a small island set in Western Sicily (Italy), in the Marsala Lagoon (Stagnone di Marsala), between Trapani and Marsala. A big disposal pit, datable to between the first half of the 8th and the mid-6th century bc, was identified in Area D. This context was sampled for plant macro-remains through bucket flotation. Palynological treatment and analysis were also performed on soil samples collected from each of the identified filling layers. The combination of the study of macro- and micro-remains has shown to be effective in answering questions concerning introduced food plants and agricultural practices, and native plants, including timber use. Here we investigate if a waste context can provide information about Phoenicians at Motya and their impact on the local plant communities. We found that human diet included cereals (mostly naked wheat), pulses and fruits. A focus was placed on weeds (including Lolium temulentum and Phalaris spp.) referable to different stages of crop processing. This aspect was enriched by the finding of cereal pollen, which suggests that threshing (if not even cultivation) was carried out on site. Palynology also indicates an open environment, with little to no forest cover, characterized by complex anthropogenic activities. Anthracology suggests the presence of typical Mediterranean plant taxa, including not only the shrubs Pistacia lentiscus and Erica multiflora, but also evergreen oaks. The presence of a stone pine nut and of Pinus pinea/pinaster in the pollen rain is noteworthy, suggesting the local occurrence of these Mediterranean pines outside their native distribution range. This represents the first such find in the central Mediterranean. Finally, the present study allows us to compare Motya’s past environment with the present one. The disappearance of Juniperus sp. and Erica arborea from the present-day surroundings of the Marsala lagoon appears to be related to land-overexploitation, aridification or a combination of both processes.
... (Gonzalez-Tejero et al., 2008;Pieroni et al., 2005) Italy Used to treat headache, stomach, intestine and kidney pains. (Bosi et al., 2009) Greece Used to cure inflammation. (Simopoulos, 2004;Brussell, 2004) Romania External bath for weakness and sickness. ...
... Purslane is a medicinally important herb (Gills, 1992) as it possesses an array of medicinally important phytochemicals (Uddin et al., 2014;Sicari et al., 2018;Negi, 2018;Ojah et al., 2021). Ethnobotanical studies suggests that it has been an important part of traditional medicine among various cultures in different parts of this world (Sulthana and Rahman, 2013;Belcheff, 2012;Bosi et al., 2009;Sangeetha et al., 2020;Tene et al., 2007). The qualitative and quantitative analysis of phytochemical composition also supports its pharmacological value (Okafor and Ezejindu, 2014;Negi, 2018). ...
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The Portulaca oleracea L. commonly known as Purslane is distributed all over the world and easily grows in diverse soil conditions. It has been traditionally used as a nutritious and ethnomedicinal food across the globe. Various studies have shown that the plant is a rich source of various important phytochemicals such as flavonoids, alkaloids, terpenoids, proteins, carbohydrates, and vitamins such as A, C, E, and B, carotenoids and minerals such as phosphorus, calcium, magnesium and zinc. It is particularly very important because of the presence of very high concentration of omega-3- fatty acids especially α-linolenic acid, gamma- linolenic acid and linoleic acid, which are not generally synthesized in terrestrial plants. Various parts of Purslane are known for ethnomedicinal and pharmacological uses because of its anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, skeletal muscle relaxant, antitumor, hepatoprotective, anticancer, antioxidant, anti-insomnia, analgesic, gastroprotective, neuroprotective, wound healing and antiseptic activities. Due to multiple benefits of Purslane, it has become an important wonder crop and various scientists across the globe have shown much interest in it as a healthy food for the future. In this review, we provide an update on the phytochemical and nutritional composition of Purslane, its usage as nutritional and an ethnomedicinal plant across the world. We further emphasize its ethno medicinal importance across cultures and pharmacological potential.
... There are also clues regarding use of purslane for respiratory diseases in ancient Iranian medical books [179]. Ethnobotanical studies suggest that it has been an important part of traditional medicine among various cultures in different parts of this world [71,78,93,96]. ...
Article
Full-text available
The Portulaca oleracea L. commonly known as purslane is distributed all over the world and easily grows in diverse soil and climatic conditions. It has been traditionally used as a nutritious and ethnomedicinal food across the globe. Various studies have shown that the plant is a rich source of various important phytochemicals such as flavonoids, alkaloids, terpenoids, proteins, carbohydrates, and vitamins such as A, C, E, and B, carotenoids and minerals such as phosphorus, calcium, magnesium and zinc. It is particularly very important because of the presence of a very high concentration of omega-3- fatty acids especially α-linolenic acid, gamma- linolenic acid and linoleic acid, which are not generally synthesized in terrestrial plants. Various parts of purslane are known for ethnomedicinal and pharmacological uses because of its anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, skeletal muscle relaxant, antitumor, hepatoprotective, anticancer, antioxidant, anti-insomnia, analgesic, gastroprotective, neuroprotective, wound healing and antiseptic activities. Due to multiple benefits of purslane, it has become an important wonder crop and various scientists across the globe have shown much interest in it as a healthy food for the future. In this review, we provide an update on the phytochemical and nutritional composition of purslane, its usage as nutritional and an ethnomedicinal plant across the world. We further provide a detailed account on ethnopharmacological studies that have proved the ethnomedicinal properties of purslane.
... The name Portulaca is derived from the Latin word "Porto" meaning milk since the plant contains milky juice. As per binomial classification, the word Portulaca gets from the Latin, portula = little entryway, maybe from the kind of dehiscence of the natural product, while olera = vegetable, shows the diffuse utilization of this species as food from old-time (Bosi et al. 2009). This plant is recorded as one of the most valuable restorative plants and named "Global Panacea" by World Health Organization (Sultana and Rahman 2013). ...
Article
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Sustainable food production through integrating knowledge of indigenous and local communities has significance for meeting the UN-SDGs (sustainable development goals). The majority of the food supply comes from cereal crops, which are exceptionally delicate to changing weather and climate conditions. Therefore, climate-resilient underutilized local crops may be a good option to be considered as potential crops for dietary diversification. The present review on Portulaca oleracea L. commonly called Purslane, having remarkable nutritional, medicinal, and pharmacological, and phytoremediation properties show significance. It is highly nutritious and has all essential minerals, vitamins, and proteins. About 93% of water, 3% of carbohydrates, and 2% of protein are present in raw Purslane. It contains dietary minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, etc. Potassium is the most abundant electrolyte present in Purslane. It contains the highest content of vitamin among green leafy vegetables. There are four different types of omega-3 fatty acids found in Purslane. This is required for typical wellbeing, improvement and anticipation of various cardiovascular illnesses, and upkeep of a sound resistant framework. Purslane (Portulaca oleracea L.) species is highly nutritious and can be easily grown with high production efficiency in tropical, subtropical, and underdeveloped districts of the world. The species can be easily cultivated and act as an ideal substitute for resource-poor farmers in the developing region. Considering immense nourishing benefits, this species has great potential for its utilization in the future under changing climate. Further, the species has a huge scope that can be advantageous for accomplishing the food and health benefits at the local and regional levels and may preserve agro-biodiversity for sustainable development.
... In some European countries like Italy, Turkey, and Greece, PO has been used to treat a variety of diseases such as headache, stomach intestine and kidney pains, intestinal worms, dysentery, urogenital infections, urinary inflammations, scurvy, fever, and hemorrhoids (Bosi et al., 2009;Simopoulos, 2004;Brussell, 2004;Cakilcioglu and Turkoglu, 2010). ...
Article
Objective: Portulaca oleracea L. (PO) is abundantly found in Iran and is used in both nutritional and traditional medicine. Delaying thirst is one of the uses of the medicinal product of this plant which has been emphasized in Iranian traditional medicine though it was not proven scientifically. Accordingly, the present study aimed to investigate the effect of PO product on thirst. Materials and methods: In this research, two main Set of experiments were considered: acute water deprivation group and chronic water restriction group. The urine parameters analyzed were osmolality, and sodium, and potassium concentration, and blood parameters evaluated included blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, osmolality, and sodium, and potassium concentration. The PO dosages were 50, 100 and 200 mg/kg. Results: The findings showed that the effects of PO 100 and 200 (mg/kg) on blood and urine parameters were greater than that of PO 50 mg/kg, but there were no significant differences between them. Conclusion: In general, these findings indicate that PO extract can play an important role in reducing thirst symptoms most likely by affecting intra- and extra-cellular environments. Also, it is recommended to study the beneficial effects of this plant on diseases that lead to hypokalemia or blood potassium depletion.
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Consuming a high-fat diet causes a harmful accumulation of fat in the liver, which may not reverse even after switching to a healthier diet. Different reports dealt with the role of purslane as an extract against high-fat diet; meanwhile, it was necessary to study the potential role of fresh purslane as a hypolipidemic agent. This study is supposed to investigate further the potential mechanism in the hypolipidemic effect of fresh purslane, by measuring cholesterol 7a-hydroxylase (CYP7A1) and low-density lipoprotein receptor (Ldlr). Rats were divided into two main groups: the first one is the normal control group (n=7 rats) and the second group (n=28 rats) received a high fat diet for 28 weeks to induce obesity. Then the high fat diet group was divided into equal four subgroups. As, the positive control group still fed on a high fat diet only. Meanwhile, the other three groups were received high-fat diet supplemented with a different percent of fresh purslane (25, 50 and 75%) respectively. At the end of the experiment, rats were sacrificed and samples were collected for molecular, biochemical, and histological studies. Current study reported that, supplementation of fresh purslane especially at a concentration of 75% play an important role against harmful effects of high-fat diet at both cellular and organ level, by increasing CYP7A1 as well as Ldlr mRNA expression. Also, there were an improvement on the tested liver functions, thyroid hormones, and lipid profile. Fresh purslane plays the potential role as a hypolipidemic agent via modulation of both Ldlr and Cyp7A, which will point to use fresh purslane against harmful effects of obesity.
Article
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The phenotypic diversity of four purslane populations, one was grown in green house and three are spontaneous, was estimated by the analyses of 19 morphological characters. The discriminante (DISC) analyse performed on the chosen characters has shown a strong interpopulation heterogeneity as well as between the cultivated population and the spontaneous one in one hand, as between the spontaneous populations in the other hand. This analyse has shown the presence of two varieties: Portulaca oleracea subsp. sylvestris (DC.) Celak., distinguished by its prostate, reddish and fleshy stems, and Portulaca oleracea subsp. sativa (Haw.) Celak., characterized by its taller upright growth habit and larger leaves and seeds. This results suggest large differences between the cultivated and the spontaneous plant as a consequence of different soil, temperature and nutrition conditions under green house, but also genetic diversity is expected among some spontaneous populations.
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Nutritional (ascorbic acid, dehydroascorbic acid and carotenes); antinutritional and toxic components (oxalic acid, nitrate and erucic acid) were determined in sixteen popular species of wild edible plants which are collected for human consumption in southeast Spain. Ascorbic + dehydroascorbic acids contents were very high in several species, especially in Chenopodium album L. (155 mg/100 g). Carotenoid content ranged from 4.2 mg/100 g (Stel-laria media Villars) to 15.4 mg/100 g (Amaranthus viridis L.). A range of values was found for oxalic acid from absence to 1100 mg/100 g of plant material. Nitrate contents ranged from 47 mg/100 g (Salicornia europaea L.) to 597 mg/100 g (Amaranthus viridis L.). Low amounts of erucic acid were found in the Cruciferae family (Sisymbrium irio L. 1.73%; Cardaria draba L. 1.23%) and Plantago major L. 3.45%.
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The growth responses of Portulaca oleracea plants from a central Michigan population are compared with representative populations of Portulaca grandiflora, a cultivar, and Portulaca pilosa, a plant of southern and relatively narrow distribution in this country. In comparison tests, and species show a significant interaction with photoperiod, light intensity, temperature, and soil types. Portulaca oleracea is a weed, in part because its process and pattern of growth give the plant quick response capability. In contrast to its companion species, P. oleracea uses a wide variety of photoperiods, and capsule numbers are positively correlated with amounts of light received. This weed is widely tolerant of light intensities, temperature regimes, and soil types, and the plants produce adequate levels of capsules over a wide range of these factors. In addition, individuals have the ability to produce large numbers of capsules rapidly when high levels of these factors become available.
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World Economic Plants: A Standard Reference, by J. H. WIERSEMA & B. LEÓN. xxxv+749 pp. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press (1999). £84.00 or $125.00 (hardback). ISBN 0 8493 2119 0. - - Volume 133 Issue 4 - D. WILMAN