Tetragonia fruticosa L.
Bloom Time: September to November
Tetragonia fruticosa is a perennial shrub with oblong, succulent leaves and small yellow flowers in late winter and spring. It has white woody stems at the base and grows on its own up to 20 inches (50 cm). The soft fleshy oblong or oval leaves have margins rolled under, leaving a prominent central spine visible on the lower side. The tiny yellow flowers are borne in terminal racemes or axils.
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 cultivated along the East Asian rim. It thrives in hot weather and is considered an heirloom vegetable. Few insects consume it, and 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 they will continue to produce greens through the summer.
See more at How to Grow and Care for Tetragonia.
This species is native to South Africa.
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