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Tetragonia tetragonioides habit.jpg
Tetragonia tetragonoides
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Aizoaceae
Genus: Tetragonia

About 85 species, including:

Tetragonia is a genus of about 85 species[1] of flowering plants in the family Aizoaceae, native to temperate and subtropical regions mostly of the Southern Hemisphere, in New Zealand, Australia, southern Africa and South America.


Plants of the Tetragonia genus are herbs or small shrubs. Leaves are alternate and succulent,[2] with flowers typically yellow and small in size. Flowers can be axillary, solitary or fasciculate, greenish or yellowish in colour and mostly bisexual.[1] Fruit are initially succulent but become dry and woody with age. The genus name comes from "tetragonus", meaning "four-angled" and referring to the shape of the plants' fruits.[3]


About 40 species of Tetragonia are found in southern Africa.[1] The species is spread throughout most of southern Australia.[4]


The genus was first formally described by the botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1753 in the work Species Plantarum.[4] Synonyms for the genus include Tetragonocarpos Mill., Demidovia Pall., and Tetragonella Miq.

Human use and cultivation[edit]

The best known species of Tetragonia is the leafy vegetable food crop, Tetragonia tetragonioides ("New Zealand spinach"). New Zealand spinach is widely cultivated as a summer leafy vegetable.

Some of the other species are also eaten locally, such as Tetragonia decumbens ("Dune spinach") which is a local delicacy in its native southern Africa.[5]


  1. ^ a b c "2403.000 Tetragonia L". Flora of Zimbabwe: Cultivated plants. 2002. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  2. ^ "Tetragonia". FloraBase. Western Australian Government Department of Parks and Wildlife. 
  3. ^ Beadle, N.C.W., Part II, Students Flora of North Eastern New South Wales, University of New England, 1972, ISBN 0-85834-040-2.
  4. ^ a b "Tetragonia L". Atlas of Living Australia. Global Biodiversity Information Facility. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  5. ^ http://www.plantzafrica.com/planttuv/tetragondec.htm