Tetragonia implexicoma (Miq.) Hook. f.
Tetragonella amplexicoma, Tetragonia expansa var. strongylocarpa, Tetragonia strongylocarpa, Trianthema maidenii
Bloom Time: Late winter to mid-spring
Tetragonia implexicoma is a scrambling subshrub that forms dense leafy patches of up to 13 feet (4 m). The stems are long and trailing, often succulent and colored red or pink when young, maturing to dark green to brown-black and becoming woody. The leaves are alternate, clustered, and fleshy. The yellow flowers are solitary. The fruits are pink to dark red, succulent berries up to 0.3 inches (8 mm) long.
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 the edible leaves and can be used as food or 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, 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 it will continue to produce greens through the summer. See more at How to Grow and Care for Tetragonia.
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