Tetragonia tetragonioides

Distribution Map
Family: Aizoaceae
Distribution: Widespread in coastal areas and inland salt marshes. Also occurs in New Zealand.
Common Name: New Zealand spinach; Warrigal greens.
Derivation of Name: Tetragonia...from Greek, tetra, four and gonia, angle, referring to the 4-angled fruits
tetragonioides... similar to the genus Tetragonia (the species was originally placed in the genus Demidovia).
Conservation Status: Not considered to be at risk in the wild.

General Description:

Tetragonia tetragonioides is found scattered throughout Australia and has become naturalised in many parts of the world. It is considered an agricultural weed in in parts of Queensland. It is a prostrate, sprawling plant with soft stems and foliage and can spread to around 2 metres. Leaves are oval or diamond-shaped and about 75 - 100 mm long. The small, greenish yellow flowers appear at the leaf bases throughout most of the year.

Tetragonia tetragonioides
Tetragonia tetragonioides
Photo: Brian Walters

Warragal greens has little to offer in terms of ornamental horticulture, however, it has received attention as a "bush tucker" plant. It was widely used as a spinach substitute in the early years of European settlement in Australia and was even taken back to England where it was a popular green vegetable in the early 1800s. The plant is easily grown in moist, reasonably drained soils in sun or partial shade. It is, however, short lived and needs to be regularly propagated.

Although edible (and, like common garden spinach), the leaves contain a high level of oxalic acid which must be leached out by blanching before eating. This can be done by plunging the leaves into boiling water for a minute or so. The water should be discarded.

Propagation can be carried out easily from both seed and cuttings.


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