kōkihi, New Zealand spinach, tutae-ikamoana
Demidovia tetragonoides Pall., Tetragonia cornuta Gaertn., Tetragonia expansa Murray nom. illegit., Tetragonia halimifolia G.Forst., Tetragonia inermis F.Muell.
Vascular – Native
Lianes & Related Trailing Plants - Dicotyledons
2n = 96
Current conservation status
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2017 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2012 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: By Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, John W. Barkla, Shannel P. Courtney, Paul D. Champion, Leon R. Perrie, Sarah M. Beadel, Kerry A. Ford, Ilse Breitwieser, Ines Schönberger, Rowan Hindmarsh-Walls, Peter B. Heenan and Kate Ladley.
2012 | At Risk – Naturally Uncommon | Qualifiers: EF, SO, Sp
Previous conservation statuses
2009 | At Risk – Naturally Uncommon | Qualifiers: EF, SO
2004 | Sparse
Indigenous. Kermadec, Three Kings, North, South, Stewart and Chatham Islands. Also present in Australia, the western Pacific, Malesia, Japan and southern South America.
A species of the coastal strand zone often growing along beaches amongst driftwood, and sea weed but also in sand dunes, on boulder and cobble beaches, on cliff faces and rock ledges and in some areas such as the Kermadec Islands an conspicuous and important associated of the vegetationof many of the outer islands in the archipelago. Partly because it has been cultivated as a vegetable this species often appears in landfills or as a casual weed of urban areas. Indeed some wild occurrences near urban coastal settlements may stem from discarded plants or seed in garden waste.
Widely trailing perennial herb forming dense patches, circular mats, or rarely mounds of interlacing branches up to 1 m thick. Branches up to 1 m long, bright to dark green or yellow green, subterete, numerous, woody near base, decumbent, trailing not or only rarely rooting at nodes. Petioles firmly fleshy up to 20 mm long. Leaves 15-80 x 10-60 mm, dark green to yellow green, darker above and paler beneath, ovate-rhomboid, rhomboid to triangular, obtuse to subacute, entire or rarely slightly sinuate or shallowly lobed, both surfaces very densely though finely papillose. Flowers solitary or paired, mostly perfect sometimes unisexual, subsessile, 7-8 mm diameter, perianth dark yellow to pale yellow (rarely yellow-green). Calyx-tube broadly turbinate, lobes broad-triangular, obtuse. Stamens variable but between 10-20. Ovary 3-8-celled, styles 3-8. Fruit 8-10(15) mm long, subturbinate, angled, woody horns 2-4 apical, sharp to blunted-ended, seeds 4-10.
Tetragonia trigyna is similar but has reddish stems, more usually broadly ovate or deltoid leaves, distinctly pedicellate flowers and globose rather than turbinate, succulent rather than woody, red fruits lacking horns.
November - March
Easily grown from seed and once established self-sows freely. A moderately popular vegetable whose seed is sold as New Zealand Spinach. Frost tender but once established usually resprouts from the base when warmer weather returns.
It is threatened by disturbance of coastal sands and stony beaches.
Where To Buy
Seed and plants often sold by main stream garden centres, often in the herb section or as a New Zealand vegetable.
Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 1 February 2008. Description based on Allan (1961)
References and further reading
Allan, H.H. 1961: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. I. Wellington, Government Printer.
Wilcox, M.D. New Zealand spinach in Mangere. Auckland Botanical Society Journal, 56: 82
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Tetragonia tetragonoides Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/tetragonia-tetragonoides/ (Date website was queried)