Warrigal Greens (Tetragonia Tetragonioides)

Over at Beelarong Community Farm where I have my allotment we have an Australian Native Garden where – you’ve got it – we plant trees, shrubs and ground cover that is native to Australia.

In this garden we use Warrigal Greens as a ground-cover plant. Warrigal greens are also known as New Zealand spinach and Botany Bay Greens.

It was one of the first native Australian vegetables to become popular with European settlers.  Captain Cook was known to encourage his men to eat them to prevent scurvy.

WARNING: Caution should be taken with Warrigal Greens as the leaves contain toxic oxalates which can be harmful consumed in large quantities. It’s important to blanch the leaves for 3 minutes and discard this water.  Then rinse the leaves in cold water before using them in salads or for cooking.

I have been reading up about Warrigal Greens and their importance to the early British settlers as a source of nourishment and if you have a few minutes to spare – it’s a long post – check out this link to The Forager’s Year blog. Fascinating stuff.

I love this line from The Forager’s Year “Overall, eating tetragonia may be beneficial if you are a scurvy struck convict.”

So, in conclusion, why would you bother eating it?  Because it’s our native spinach, it’s available all year round  – and nutritionally it reduces the risk of scurvy!   Just make sure you blanch it first and don’t pig out on it.

And why would you bother growing it?  It has no known diseases and snails and slugs will NOT eat this (if that doesn’t send out alarm bells I don’t know what will!).  And it’s great ground cover.

Warrigal Greens (Tetragonia Tetragonioides)

Warrigal Greens (Tetragonia Tetragonioides)

I know I have posted this photograph before but it cheers me every time I look at it. So here it is again. On the edge of the Australian Native Garden is this Bottle Brush tree and the birds love it.


“I can eat upside down”

Happy Gardening.

17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Heidi @ lightlycrunchy
    Sep 10, 2013 @ 10:56:34

    It’s an interesting looking plant – though hopefully there aren’t many scurvy stricken convicts left over there..


  2. MrsYub
    Sep 10, 2013 @ 11:11:45

    That is really interesting. Thanks for sharing. There is so much easily available for American history lessons, but I discovered its a little harder to get facts about Australian history unless you already have an idea of what exactly you are looking for.


    • Allotment adventures with Jean
      Sep 10, 2013 @ 13:33:36

      Mrs Yub I find it so much easier to research facts since we had the internet.
      Those early settlers had to struggle.


      • MrsYub
        Sep 10, 2013 @ 15:56:11

        Yes, because we have a harsh, though beautiful land, even now.
        I do find that I can get slightly over whelmed with google info on a subject I know very little about, only to discover quite by accident that most of it was irrelevant anyway! lol!

  3. greeningofgavin
    Sep 10, 2013 @ 12:13:32

    Hi Jean, Warrigal Greens grows very well in my garden here in Victoria. It seeds prolifically, and loves to spread. We eat it occasionally, after blanching and it goes well in stir fries.

    Easiest native plant to grow ever!

    Gav x


  4. tanglycottage
    Sep 10, 2013 @ 17:37:02

    I have wanted to grow that plant but had no idea one must be careful of how to eat it!


  5. narf77
    Sep 11, 2013 @ 04:09:27

    So THAT’S what stops the scurvy eh? Better get planting ASAP Jean! Actually, being completely serious here, I need a good and useful ground cover to keep the moisture in our poor denuded soil over the long dry summer months (Jan through to misc and boobity boo depending on how mother nature feels on any given year…) and if it’s (even slightly) edible AND grows like crazy and as Gavin says is easy to grow I am on it! Now…where do I get seeds?


    • Allotment adventures with Jean
      Sep 11, 2013 @ 19:20:44

      If I buy any seeds (so many are shared) I get them from Green Harvest here in Queensland. They sell Warrigal Greens seed


      I can’t say I have noticed any of the plants at the farm going to seed, there is just a big carpet of them across the floor of the Australian Native Garden but I suppose they must do. I’ll have a look when I next go to the farm.
      Do you have any trouble having seeds imported into Tassie?


      • narf77
        Sep 12, 2013 @ 04:17:50

        We have terrible trouble getting seeds into Tassie Jean but not as bad as in W.A. I don’t think warrigal greens are on the banned list, mostly the capsicum and chilli family, tomatoes, walnuts, honey and the ginger family (for some reason! Like gingers are going to go nuts in Tassies frosty tundras! ;) ). I figure that warrigal greens wouldn’t get eaten much here but they could form a lovely green carpet over the soil to give it a chance to hold some of it’s moisture in over our dry summers. From January through to about April we get probably 3 rain events…very dry.

      • Allotment adventures with Jean
        Sep 13, 2013 @ 06:11:57

        Fran, even if you don’t eat the warrigal greens it would make a good ground cover if your climate suits it. But I know it grows in New Zealand which also has a cooler temperature.

      • narf77
        Sep 13, 2013 @ 06:17:05

        That would be great here Jean, we need all the ground cover we can get but I am wondering if the wallabies would scarf it?

    • Allotment adventures with Jean
      Sep 13, 2013 @ 06:25:15

      Not sure if wallabies would scarf it Fran. But those greens have been growing wild in Australia for over two hundred years and the wallabies are still with us (or they know they need to blanch first.) :)


  6. rose2852
    Oct 07, 2013 @ 14:02:05

    We have some in the garden and are going to try it tonight!


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frugal feeding

n. frugality; the quality of being economical with money or food.

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