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New Zealand Spinach


New Zealand Spinach

New Zealand Spinach

As implied by its name, the New Zealand spinach is native to the country of New Zealand. It looks like a Spinacia oleracea or spinach, but its habits of growth are very dissimilar.


Unlike the average spinach, New Zealand spinach can survive unusually high temperatures (up to 35 C) and is easily killed by a frost.

The New Zealand spinach is popularly grown in tropical region of America precisely because of this tolerance to heat.

The shoots and leaves are usually harvested and cooked by boiling or used as an ingredient in preparing fresh vegetable salads.


Tetragonia tetragonioides, formerly known as Tetragonia expansa, is a foliaged ground cover more commonly known by the names New Zealand Spinach, in Maori as Kokihi, Warrigal Greens, Botany Bay Spinach, Sea Spinach, Cook's Cabbage, and Tetragon.


It is a species of spinach indigenous to New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Argentina, and Chile.

This species of spinach was rarely utilized by the Maori or other native people on the continent. The first mention of it as a leaf vegetable was by Captain Cook.

This gained it instant popularity and the plant was immediately harvested, cooked, and preserved to aid in fighting scurvy, and shipped with the Endeavor’s crew.


It disseminated when the botanist and explorer Joseph Banks brought seeds on his return to Kew Gardens in the second half of the eighteenth century. For two hundred years, Tetragonia tetragonioides was the only naturalized vegetable that came from New Zealand and Australia.

The New Zealand spinach prefers a humid environment for development. The vegetable grows level to the ground. Its leaves are 3 to 15 centimeters long, shaped like a triangle and a vivid green.

Its leaves are dense, and spread over with tiny appendages that resemble drops of water on the top and bottom part of the leaves. Its flowers are yellow, and its fruits are small, tough pod shrouded with tiny horns. It is a vascular plant and develops well on salty ground.


This spinach species is grown for its palatable leaves, and can be harvested as food or as a decorative plant for groundcover. As several of its names mean, it has similar texture and flavor characteristics to spinach, and is prepared like spinach, even though it has low to medium amounts of oxalates which must to be removed by parboiling the leaves in hot water for a minute, then washing in cold water prior to cooking. It can be encountered as an encroaching plant in South and North America, and has been harvested along the rim of East Asian. It flourishes in hot weather, and is believed to be a heritage vegetable. Very few insects will come near it, and even snails and slugs and will stay away from it.

The irregularly-shaped and thick seeds of this vegetable should be planted right after the last frost of spring. Prior to planting, the seeds should be drenched in cold water for half a day or three hours in warm water. They should be planted 5 to 10 millimeters deep, and spaced 15 to 30 centimeters from each other. The seedlings will come forth in 10 to 20 days, and it will proceed to bring forth greens during summer.



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