Tetragonia tetragonioides (Pall.) Kuntze
New Zealand Spinach, Botany Bay Spinach, Cook's Cabbage, Sea Spinach, Tetragon, Warrigal Greens, Warrigal Cabbage
Demidovia tetragonoides, Tetragonia borealis, Tetragonia expansa
Bloom Time: August to October
Tetragonia tetragonioides is a leafy succulent groundcover that grows up to 8 inches (20 cm) tall. It has a trailing habit and can form a thick carpet on the ground or climb through other vegetation and hang downwards. Leaves are triangular, bright green, and up to 6 inches (15 cm) long. They are thick and covered with tiny papillae that look like water drops on the top and bottom of the leaves. Flowers are yellow, and the fruits are small hard capsules covered with small horns.
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 Argentina, Australia, Chile, Japan, and New Zealand.
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