I am fairly certain that mom and I have identified the annoying weed that is growing in every one's garden space. The spidery, branching-out weed has been getting on our nerves... but what the heck is it?
Well, after some research today, we found out that there are actually two plants that look very similar, and grow very close together. In fact, both these plants were growing in my garden space, just inches apart. The first (top and third pictures) are called "Spurge" or "Milky Purslane" and are NOT edible.
The other, "Purslane" (pictures two and four) is edible, and very nutritious. It is rich in vitamins C and E, along with protein, beta carotene, and Omega-3 fatty acids.
The differences are easy to see up close up-- the purslane leaves are rounder, fatter, and more succulent like a jade plant, and the spurge plants are more pointed, and may have a purple-red spot in them. The leaf pattern is also different-- on the spurge, the leaves grow across from each other.
The easiest way to tell the difference between the two as far as I'm concerned is to break them open. The spurge oozes out a white milky substance, and the purslane does not-- the inside looks more clear.
Please, please, please make sure you positively identify any plants you might try to munch on before putting it in your mouth-- don't just take my word for it!
And if you do try the purslane, let me know how it is... according to everything I've read, it's one of the tastiest weeds you can forage for!