Tetragonia tetragonioides (Pall.) Kuntze
Botany Bay Spinach, Cook's Cabbage, New Zealand Spinach, Sea Spinach, Tetragon, Warrigal Cabbage, Warrigal Greens
Native to Argentina, Australia, Chile, Japan, and New Zealand. It grows in sandy shorelines and bluffs, often in disturbed areas.
Tetragonia tetragonioides is a trailing succulent plant that forms a thick carpet on the ground or climbs through other plants and hangs downwards. It grows up to 8 inches (20 cm) tall. Branches are green, woody near the base, and grow up to 3.3 feet (1 m) long. Leaves are thick, fleshy, dark green to yellow-green, with both surfaces densely covered with tiny papillae resembling water drops. They are triangular, up to 3.2 inches (8 cm) long, and up to 2.4 inches (6 cm) wide.
Flowers are solitary or paired, up to 0.3 inches (0.8 cm) in diameter, with five yellow petals, and appear at the leaf bases throughout most of the year. Fruits are hard capsules covered with small horns and split open when ripe.
USDA hardiness zone 8a to 11b: from 10 °F (−12.2 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
It is grown for edible leaves and can be used as food or as an ornamental plant for ground cover. As some of its names signify, it has similar flavor and texture properties to spinach and is cooked like spinach. Like spinach, it contains oxalates. Its medium to low levels of oxalates need to be removed by blanching the leaves in hot water for one minute, then rinsing in cold water before cooking. It can be found as an invasive plant in North and South America and has been cultivated along the East Asian rim. It thrives in hot weather and is considered an heirloom vegetable. Few insects consume it; even slugs and snails do not seem to feed on it.
The thick, irregularly-shaped seeds should be planted just after the last spring frost. Before planting, the seeds should be soaked for 12 hours in cold water or 3 hours in warm water. Seeds should be planted 0.2 to 0.4 inches (5 to 10 mm) deep and spaced 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) apart. The seedlings will emerge in 10 to 20 days and continue to produce greens through the summer.
See more at How to Grow and Care for Tetragonia.
- Back to genus Tetragonia
- Succupedia: Browse succulents by Scientific Name, Common Name, Genus, Family, USDA Hardiness Zone, Origin, or cacti by Genus
Click on a photo to see a larger version.