Warrigal Greens- Tetragonia tetragonoides

Also known as New Zealand spinach, it is probably one of very few Australian plants to be cultivated internationally as a vegetable. It is basically a creeping ground cover and if you grow it once, you’ll always have it. It grows in a variety of places, sandy soil, full sun, part shade, fertile garden beds. I’ve seen it growing really prolific in pure sand at the beach, used for erosion control. Basically an annual, it freely seeds. Little yellow flowers.

It has thick triangular leaves that glisten as if covered in dew. Bright green on top and a more faded colour underneath. They have an interesting texture, almost a crunch and nice and salty taste. Great to collect a handful to toss in salads. If you are going to eat in quantity and regularly, best to wilt or blanch, as they are high in oxalic acid. Apparently this plant was one of Captain Cooks discoveries, sighted in New Zealand and Australia, along the coasts. It was cooked and eaten by the Endeavour crew to allay scurvy. Joseph Banks took seeds back to England. In the 1880’s it was promoted in European and American seed catalogues as a hardy, summer growing spinach substitute. It was popular for a time and then faded into obscurity. Recently it has been rediscovered by Australian Bush Tucker promoters and now known as Warrigal Greens.


  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,498 admin

    I have been wanting to try this one, but it never grows for me.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,690 admin

    I will put this on my list of seeds to get this year. I may have had it in the past but spinach doesn't do as well for me as other greens and I may not have paid enough attention to the difference in the spinaches that I planted. I have another type of "spinach" to try as well this year. Red Malabar Spinach but it is a Basella species.

    Keep up with the introductions to plants in your world, @jodienancarrow. There is so much literature out there on traditional "Western" medicinal herbs along with TCM herbs and Ayurvedic herbs and for those of us in NA, indigenous plant uses. But much less so on plants from Australia. Eucalyptus seems to be one of the only ones used commonly. So I really appreciate what you have to share with us.

  • JodieDownUnder
    JodieDownUnder Posts: 1,483 admin
    edited March 2021

    @judsoncarroll4 I’ve never seen the seeds where you traditionally would, so they must be online etc. i bought my 1 little plant at a plant fair. Planted in the veg garden and it took off. It’s obviously seeded and I have it everywhere. I do pull out a bit and it goes on the compost. Maybe try a green house situation to get it started.

    @torey I did try a climbing spinach once, can’t remember the name but once you cooked it, it turned slimy, not nice and never bothered again. I’ve stuck with traditional English spinach or chard in winter and warrigal greens for summer. I’m glad you’re enjoying the Aussie plant theme.

  • soeasytocraft
    soeasytocraft Posts: 237 ✭✭✭

    Grew this for the first time last year. It was really enjoyed by all.I purchased the seeds at a local seedy event in 2019. These events were my favourite outings of the year! Miss them so much!!!

    AT any rate I'm getting itchy to get planting! March has been unusually warm and and wants to trick me into thinking I can start gardening!