Scrambled eggs plant is a summer annual that forms a spreading mat up to 6" tall and 2' across, branching frequently at the base. The stems are round, thick, and succulent. Like the stems, the leaves are rather thick and succulent. They are usually shiny green, sometimes becoming reddish-purple in bright sunlight.
The flowers are bright yellow. The fruit is a round, flat capsule that splits in two at maturity and releases many small seeds with tufts of white hair, resembling scrambled eggs. The scrambled eggs plant was originally introduced into the U.S. as an edible crop. However, it is now considered an invasive weed that can crowd out indigenous plants, especially in arid regions. The scrambled eggs plant is native to Africa but was introduced into the U.S. as a crop for use by African-American slaves and settlers of the American West. Like many plants of desert regions, this species has various mechanisms to reduce water loss. It does this by having small leaves with thick cuticles, and keeping its leaves rolled up until the morning dew subsides.
The first published documentation of the scrambled eggs plant comes from botanist George Vasey in 1875. However, other botanists had described this plant as early as 1852, but these earlier reports were not cited by Vasey. The scrambled eggs plant had also been reported in various garden publications as an edible crop since the 1850s, but these reports never mentioned its invasive qualities. These earlier accounts suggest that the plant was illegally imported into California and released to private gardens before 1875. This species has escaped cultivation and is now considered an invasive weed in many areas.
The scrambled eggs plant is now considered a noxious weed because it can form large mats that crowd indigenous plants, especially low-growing varieties like the desert globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua). The spread of this species into arid regions occurred during heavy floods in 1993 and 1999 when much irrigation water was lost to the sea via the Coachella Canal. A survey of 21 California counties in 2005 showed that this species was widespread but not abundant outside desert regions, with only moderate infestations in some agricultural areas.
The scrambled eggs plant is often confused with or substituted for alfalfa (Medicago sativa), a common legume cultivated for forage and hay. This species has also been introduced into the U.S. as an ornamental plant, where it is sometimes called African alfalfa because of its superficial resemblance to Medicago sativa. Some people consider 'African alfalfa' to be poisonous to both humans and livestock, but this misconception may be based on the misidentification of this species with the similar-looking 'false alfalfa' (Sesbania exaltata), another invasive perennial weed in California. The scrambled eggs plant was introduced into Florida as an ornamental, but is also considered a noxious weed in that state because it forms large mats along roadsides and other disturbed areas.
This species is also considered invasive in other countries, such as Australia and New Zealand. In Australia, it is a weed of roadsides and abandoned farmlands and commonly found along canals and riverbanks in temperate zones. Other common names for this species include 'African daisy', 'delile alfalfa', 'delile daisy', 'fausse alfa'fluer', and 'herbe aux oeufs'.
Global purslane production
Purslane is a salad green that is popular in many parts of the world. It has a crisp, juicy texture and a slightly sour flavor. Purslane is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, and iron.
Global production of purslane is estimated to be about 1.5 million metric tons annually. The majority of this production comes from China, India, and Turkey. Purslane is grown in many other countries as well, including the United States, Mexico, Egypt, and Iran.
Purslane is most commonly consumed fresh, either as a standalone salad green or as an ingredient in mixed salads. It can also be cooked and used as a vegetable in soups, stews, and other dishes. In some parts of the world, purslane is pickled or made into a relish.
Purslane is a nutritious plant with many potential health benefits. It is high in antioxidants and vitamins, and it has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. Purslane may also help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and it has been shown to improve glucose tolerance in people with diabetes.
While purslane is generally considered safe, there is some concern that it may contain high levels of oxalates, which could lead to kidney stones in susceptible individuals. If you have a history of kidney stones, you may want to avoid eating large amounts of purslane. Purslane is a tasty and nutritious plant with many potential health benefits. It is easy to add to your diet, and it can be enjoyed in many different ways.