Tetragonia implexicoma

  • Tetragonia implexicoma
  • Pauatahanui. Apr 2006.
  • Pauatahanui. Apr 2006.
  • Pauatahanui. Apr 2006.
  • Pauatahanui. Apr 2006.
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Tetragonia implexicoma


Tetragonia: four-angled

Common Name(s)

native spinach

Current Threat Status

2012 - Not Threatened

Previous Threat Status

2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Tetragonia implexicoma (Miq.) Hook.f.



Flora Category

Vascular - Native


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

Main Flower Colour


Other Flower Colour



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


This page last updated on 28 Nov 2016

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