Tetragonia implexicoma


Tetragonia: four-angled

Common Name(s)

native spinach

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Not Threatened

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Tetragonia implexicoma (Miq.) Hook.f.



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Lianes and Related Trailing Plants


Tetragonia implexicoma var. chathamica F.Muell., Tetragonia trigyna Banks et Sol. ex Hook.f.


Indigenous. New Zealand: Kermadec Islands (Herald Islets, Raoul, Macauley Islands), Three Kings, North, South and Chatham Islands. Also Australia, Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands


Coastal to montane. Mostly found in coastal areas occupying a variety of habitats from cobble and sand beaches through coastal forest and shrubland, also found in exposed windshorn vegetation on cliffs and rock stacks. Occasionally found growing well inland, sometimes in farmland where it grows in barberry (Berberris spp.) hedges or on limestone and calcareous sandstone outcrops in otherwise dense forest.


Prostrate or scrambling subshrub forming straggling to dense leafy patches up to 4 m long. Stems long trailing, terete, initially somewhat succulent, and often coloured red or pink, maturing dark green to brown-black and becoming woody with age. Leaves alternate, often clustered, sometimes widely spaced along stems, fleshy, papillose; petiole 3-15(-20) mm long; lamina 20-50(-80) × (8-)10-30(-46) mm, ovate-rhomboid to lanceolate, to linear-lanceolate, adaxially dark green, green to almost glaucescent, abaxially paler, sometimes flushed pink. Flowers solitary; pedicels slender, 5-30 mm long. Perianth lobes 4, (1.8-)2.8-3.0(-3.6) mm long, oblong, abaxially papillose-hairy, adaxially finely papillose, yellow. Stamens 12-20. Ovary semi-inferior; locules and styles 2(-3). Fruit 5-8 mm long, succulent, pink to dark red, subglobose.

Similar Taxa

Tetragonia implexicoma is only ever likely to be confused with the related T. tetragonioides (New Zealand spinach) from which it is most reliably distinguished when fruiting by the pink to dark red fleshy, subglobose fruits rather than the dry, leathery obconic and distinctly horned fruits typical of T. tetragonioides.


September - June

Flower Colours



September - July

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from rooted pieces, stem cuttings and from fresh fruit. Although edible Tetragonia implexicoma has a decidedly less agreeable, more "soapy" taste. Like T. tetragonioides this species flourishes in a rich soil and does best grown in full sun. It can be used as a very effective ground cover in coastal situations and can be trained up walls and down cliff faces. It is reasonably drought tolerant but will not stand much frost. In New Zealand the species is highly variable and some populations, notably those from the Kermadec and Three Kings Islands have rather small leaves and a more compact growth habit which might be worth utilizing in cultivation.


Not Threatened. A widespread and common species throughout most of coastal New Zealand.

Chromosome No.

2n = 32

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family



Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 24 October 2011. Description by P.J. de Lange.

This page last updated on 28 Nov 2016