On the Bush Food Trail: Warrigal Greens
Warrigal greens or New Zealand spinach (Tetragona tetragonoides) is a short-lived perennial, occurring in coastal areas of Australia, New Zealand, South America and Japan. This fleshy-leaved plant with small greenish-yellow flowers in spring grows to 30cm high and with a trailing habit.
Warrigal greens have been utilised as a foraging plant for many years, including by early European settlers in Australia. Both the succulent young leaves and stems are edible. They are high in nutrition, particularly Vitamin C and Iron. As is the case with some of the other leafy greens we eat, such as spinach, warrigal greens contain oxalic acid, toxic to humans in high doses. Blanching the foliage in boiling water for at least one minute before using is all that’s required. Warrigal greens have a flavour not dissimilar to spinach and can be used in similar ways. They hold their form well during cooking so are handy in stir fry dishes.
Warrigal greens are easily grown in any sunny to partly shaded position with reasonable drainage and reliable moisture (including pots). Being a coastal plant, they are also salt tolerant. Warrigal greens are frost sensitive so are usually grown as an annual in the Canberra climate. Conveniently, warrigal greens are spared from the attentions of slugs and snails; they are favoured by wildlife, however, including lizards and birds (added bonus if you ask me). Warrigal greens can be left to self-seed; they can also be propagated by cuttings.