Charles Dudley Warner on Purslane

  • Post published:07/26/2013
  • Post comments:6 Comments


Purslane July 19, 2013

Purslane is a common weed, which some find edible, and some find despicable. Charles Dudley Warner in his delightful book My Summer in a Garden has a few choice words to say about ‘pusley.’ Charles Dudley Warner (1829-1900) spent part of his childhood in Charlemont, just down  the hill from Heath. For many years he was a writer and editor with the Hartford Courant. In 1870 he published My Summer in a Garden about his travails in the garden. His neighbor was Mark Twain, and together they shared a sense of humor, and collaborated on the book The Gilded Age.

Purslane is a weed I have often had in my garden. I do not eat it, although I could. If I wanted to. I took advantage of an isolated purslane plant to photograph it , and to share Charles Dudley Warner’s thoughts on ‘pusley.’

Purslane July 24, 2013

“The sort of weed which I most hate (if I can be said to hate any thing in my own garden) is the ‘pusley’ a fat, ground-clinging, spreading, greasy thing, and the most propagatious (it is not my fault if that word is not in  the dictionary) plant I know.”

“I am have determined to petition the Ecumenical Council to issue a bull of excommunication against ‘pusley.’ Of all the forms which ‘error’ has taken in this  world, I think that is about the worst. . . . In 1120 a bishop of Laon excommunicated the caterpillars in his diocese; and the following year St. Bernard excommunicated the flies in the Monastery of Foigny; and in 1510 the ecclesiastical court pronounced the dread sentence against the rats of Autun, Macon and Lyon. These examples are sufficient precidents.”

“I am satisfied that it is useless to try to cultivate ‘pusley.’ I set a little of it to one side, and gave it s ome extra care. It did not thrive as well as that which I was fighting. The fact is, there is a spirit of moral perversity in the plant, which makes it grow the more, the more it is interfered with.”

Purslane around the shallots and into the lawn

This morning (7-26)  I took a final photo and have documented the growth of purslane over the course of a week. Now I have to go out and weed. This is not the only place it grows.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Jeane

    It grew a lot in my garden. I tried eating it (prepared several ways)and didn’t care for the flavor. I did recently discover there are flowering varieties- pink and yellow- quite pretty, which I like the look of!

  2. Cathy Thompson

    Thanks for identifying it! It is the only thing doing well in my hot, dry garden at the moment and (since I think it is probably propagating itself by the leaves when I hoe it)I’ve been cursing it even this morning. Why was I too lazy to check the name myself?!

  3. Tinky

    One of my favorite authors, especially on PIE! Thanks for reminding me of this.

  4. Lisa at Greenbow

    That pursley is a rascal. I fully agree that it should be excommunicated. Ha.. Great post.

  5. We have more spurge than pursy (they look alike) which I would love to eat.

  6. Pat

    Jeanne – I have a friend who likes it, but says a little goes a long way.
    Cathy – I have a lot more pusley in my garden this year than ever. Who can explain these things?
    TInky – And to think that CW Dudley could have been our neighbor – back when.
    Lisa – A devilish weed – pusley.
    Donna – I am trying to actually learn the names of my weeds. I’ll have to look up spurge and see if I have that too.

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