Botanical Name: Amex australis
Common Names: Cape spinach, Three-cornered jack,Cats head, Spiney emex, Doublegee
Three-cornered jack is an annual, tap-rooted,hairless, semi prostrate fleshy plant that produces a distinctive three pointed seed.
This plant starts as a dense rosette with the fleshy stems spreading around 50cm-75cm from the base with the ends curling slightly upwards.
The leaves are dull green and triangular to ovate in shape. The leaves are between 2cm-10cm long and 2cm-10cm wide. The leaves are hairless with an undulating margin and rounded apex (end of leaf). The leaves alternate along the stem with the larges being near the base of the plant becoming noticeably smaller along the stem.
The flowers are small, white in colour and grow in loose clusters in the leaf axis (where the leaf meets the stem) Each flower is only around 0.2mm in size but as a cluster can get to about 5cm in size.
The seed pods like the flowers grow in clusters also forming where the seed meets the stem. The seeds produced have 3 spines which harden as they mature they change from fleshy green seed to a woody brown seed and is around 0.5cm-1cm long and 1cm wide.
The Younger leaves can be cooked and used like spinach. However this plant does contain oxalate and can have a laxative effect if eaten in large quantities.
Three-cornered Jack has been used by some African tribes for centuries. Zulus used the plant as a remedy for stomach disorders and colic but have also been used by Xhosa to relieve dyspepsia and biliousness and to stimulate appetite.