Australian Bushfoods magazine

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Rainforest spinach

Elatostema reticulatum

Family Urticaceae

Common Names: Rainforest spinach, soft nettle

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

A herbaceaous plant to about 30 cm tall in subtropical rainforest, along streams in the bed-low bank position, or in otherwise wet sites. From southern NSW to north-east Queensland.
Leaves are alternate, ovate-elliptical up to 20cm long and 7cm wide with an uneven base and serrated margin.
Flowers are greenish-creamy coloured, occurring on peduncles which arise from leaf axils from December-May.
Fruit is inconspicuous achenes.
Lush appearance makes it a most useful plant for shady, well-watered positions.
The leaves and young stems are edible and can be used as a substitute for spinach.
Easily propagated from cuttings.
The aborigines boiled it in bark or in large sea-shells.

I had some growing in a very damp and shaded area in Maleny for many years but the scrub turkeys did it in eventually.

The taste is delicate, with a slightly 'mucously' texture - much more discrete than our native spinach - Warrigal greens -  Tetragonia tetraganoides.