T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Tetragonia tetragonioides (N.Z Spinach)

Kingdom: Plantae (unranked): Angiosperms
(Unranked): Eudicots
(Unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Aizoaceae
Genus: Tetragonia
Species: T. tetragonioides
Binomial name: Tetragonia tetragonioides
Synonym: Demidovia tetragonioides Pall., Tetragonia cornuta, Tetragonia expansa,Tetragonia halimifolia , Tetragonia inermis,
Common name: New Zealand spinach, Tutae-ikamoana, Kokihi, Sea spinach, Botany Bay spinach, Tetragon and Cook's cabbage.

Tetragonia tetragonioides is a leafy groundcover and it is native to New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Chile and Argentine New Zealand it is indigenous to the Kermadec, Three Kings, North, South, Stewart and Chatham Islands. Its habitat is the coastal strand zone often growing along beaches amongst driftwood but it is also in sand dunes, on boulder and cobble beaches, on cliff faces and rock ledges. Now days because it is cultivated it is often appears in landfills or as a casual weed of urban areas. The plant is a halophyte (a plant that grows in waters of high salinity)
The species was rarely used by Māori as a leaf vegetable and was first mentioned by Captain Cook. It was picked, cooked, and pickled to help fight scurvy, and taken with the crew of the Endeavour. It spread when the explorer and botanist Joseph Banks took seeds back to Kew Gardens during the latter half of the 18th century. For two centuries, T. tetragonioides was the only cultivated vegetable to have originated from Australia and New Zealand.
The species prefers a moist environment for growth. The plant has a trailing habit, and will form a thick carpet on the ground or climb though other vegetation and hang downwards. The leaves of the plant are 3–15 cm long, triangular in shape, and bright green. The leaves are thick, and covered with tiny papillae that look like water drops on the top and bottom of the leaves. The flowers of the plant are yellow, and the fruit is a small, hard pod covered with small horns.

For more detail information visit:  http://nzpcn.org.nz/flora_details.aspx?ID=325