Latin Name: Tetragonia tetragonoides
Description: A perennial branched herb. It starts growing erect but after this lies over. It then grows along the ground up to 12 cm high. The stems can spread out to 1 m along the ground. The leaves are small and thick on round fleshy stems, triangle shaped, 4-6 cm long. They have distinct veins underneath. The flowers are yellow and 8 mm across and are hidden at the base of the leaves. The fruit is up to 1 cm long and with 4 or 5 horns on top.
Notes: The species, rarely used by Māori or other indigenous people as a leaf vegetable, was first mentioned by Captain Cook. It was immediately 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.
Edibility Rating out of 5: 3
Medicinal Rating out of 5: 0
Edible Uses: Leaves – raw or cooked. A spinach substitute, the shoot tips are harvested when about 8cm long, this encourages plenty of side growth with lots more shoots to harvest. A delicious substitute for spinach, the very young leaves and shoots can also be eaten raw in salads. The young leaves are best, older leaves developing an acrid taste.
Warnings: It contains 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.