FL - Sea purslane research at Mote Aquaculture Research Park
Expanding vegetable resources with marine aquaponic systems
Sea Purslane (Sesuvium portulacastrum) is an herbaceous perennial halophyte plant [plants that grow in saline environments] and is found throughout much of the world’s coastal areas – especially on the continents of Africa, Asia, North America, South America and Australia. In North America, sea purslane is found in wet sandy habitats of the southern coastal states, but it has been reported as far north as the Delaware River in Pennsylvania. Sea purslane is not only an edible halophyte plant, but it also helps protect the fragile coastlines and dunes from erosion. Therefore, wild harvest of this plant is strongly discouraged.
Sea Purslane is sold for food and medicinal purposes in markets around the world, especially in small local markets in the Caribbean, Asia, India and Europe. This edible halophyte plant is native to coastal habitats in Florida, and researchers from Mote Marine Laboratory’s Mote Aquaculture Research Park (Sarasota, Fla., USA) are farming sea purslane and redfish (Sciaenops ocellatus) in a brackish water (salinities ranging from 10 to 18 ppt) marine aquaponic system. Marine aquaponic systems can be used to produce halophyte plants that tolerate saline conditions together with fish (aquaculture) in the same aquatic environment.
Sea purslane has many reported benefits. Plant leaves are high in antioxidants, such as beta carotene, and are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. Table 1 shows the concentrations of vitamins and minerals from samples of sea purslane grown in the Mote Aquaponics system.