[From Greek, tettares = four and gonos
Physical description: It is a herb native to the Southern Hemisphere. It grows by the roads, along seashores and on the sea cliffs of the Pacific region, South America to Japan and Southeast China (including Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands), New Zealand, Australia, Tasmania, the Kermadec Islands, New Caledonia, Hawaii, and other Pacific Islands. It is widely naturalized in the temperate and subtropical parts of the world as an escape from cultivation. It is commonly found in California on sand dunes, bluffs, and the margins
Synonymy: Tetragonia expansa Murr.
Common names: New Zealand spinach, New England spinach, warrigal cabbage.
Uses: Most of the aborigine peoples of the southern part of Australia have been using Tetragonia tetragonioides (Pallas) O. Ktze. as a vegetable since the prehistoric times. They introduced it to the European explorers of the 17th century and it became the first Australian food plant to be cultivated overseas, the seeds being taken to Kew Gardens by Banks in 1771. Seeds were later distributed from Kew to Europe and North America. In Japan, a decoction of the dried plant is drunk to treat carcinoma ventriculi. The fresh plant is used to treat scurvy. The whole plant is used to heal stomach ulcers.
Fig. 56. Tetragonia tetragonoides (Pallas) O. of coastal wetlands below 100 m. The Ktze. stems are succulent and glabrous.
Leaves: simple, without stipules, alternate and 6cm x 2.5cm-9cm x 5cm. The blade is deltoid and very thin, and the margin is slightly wavy. The apex of the blade is acute to round and the base is tapering towards the stem. The midrib is flat above and below the blade which shows about 4 pairs of discrete secondary nerves. The fruits are solitary, axillary, woody, 8 mm x 6 mm, and 4-angled (Fig. 56). Note that the plant is often misspelt as Tetragonoides.
Pharmaceutical interest: The antiulcer properties of Tetragonia tetrago-nioides (Pallas) O. Ktze. are attributed to cerebrosides and sterylglucosides (Okuyama E etal., 1983, 1983a). A number of polysaccharides were isolated from this plant and their anti-inflammatory effects on carrageenan-induced edema and adjuvant arthritis were tested. Note that this plant is rich in vitamin C.
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