Saturday, 13 February 2010

Aptenia cordifolia

Matron asked about the plant the snail was on in the photo on last weeks garden log.
The plant is Aptenia cordifolia also called Baby Sunrose or Heartleaf Ice Plant See link here

New Zealand Spinach (Tetragonia tetragonioides)

It is a member of the same family (Aizoaceae) as New Zealand Spinach (Tetragonia tetragonioides) but has a smaller, lighter coloured leaf and a larger, bright pink flower.
The flowers only open in full sunshine and wouldn't you know it we have a cloudy day here today Argh!
It is said to be edible (see here) but I haven't tried it yet.

Aptenia cordifolia is not native to Australia, coming as many of our plants here do, from South Africa, has almost weed status in some states/regions but here it is a fairly vigorous, useful succulent ground cover. It's growth slows and is kept in check with our frosts in winter.

This is the Leaf Amaranth I'm growing this year Amaranthus gangeticus also known as Chinese Spinach or Edible Amamranth.
The Plants for A Future database has a warning that it should only be eaten when it is grown using organic methods.

To me the young leaves, eaten raw, taste like raw beetroot. Lightly cooked/steamed they make tasty greens. The Plants for a Future database says it requires damp soil but here in Oz it is said to be drought tolerant when established.
It requires less water than English Spinach (which I can't grow in summer) or Silverbeet which also wilts in our summer heat.

This is the Eden Seed catalogue description:
LEAF AMARANTH - (CHINESE SPINACH) (Amaranthus gangeticus)
Fast growing leaf protein, annual to 60cm, valuable for vitamins and minerals. Bright red and green leaves, tasty in salads or like spinach, stems also cooked. Drought-hardy when established. Sow after frost in cooler areas, throughout the year in warmer climates.
I hope that clears things up for you Matron and no the snails didn't do any major damage to the plant! biggrin


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