Chaya, Mexican Tree Spinach (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius)

Chaya, Mexican Tree Spinach (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius)

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Cnidoscolus aconitifolius also known as Chaya, aka 'Mayan Tree Spinach' or 'Mexican Tree Spinach', is a large fast-growing and productive perennial shrub.  In Mexico, Chaya is eaten as a leafy green vegetable, and is very common. Chaya is cooked just like spinach and is excellent in stir-fries! It's a great source of protein, vitamins, calcium, and iron and also a rich source of antioxidants. Chaya actually has more nutritional benefit then Spinach. Chaya is quite literally, a super green! 

The plant is native to Central America, and is believed to have originated on the Yucatan peninsula. The stems of the plant are woody and succulent-like, and expel a milky white sap when cut. The plant can quickly grow to a height of 15 ft if growth conditions allow, but can very easily be maintained as low as 2 ft. 

Chaya leaves should not be eaten raw, as the plant contains a toxin similar to cyanide (the stuff in Apple seeds) that is toxic when consumed. Luckily, the poison is easily neutralized by boiling the leaves for 5-15 minutes then straining the water before cooking with. This process is called blanching and is required prior to consumption. 

Plant Type:
Perennial Herb, Shrub

Harvest Season:
Year-Round

Mature Size:
Up to 12 ft.

Soil & Moisture:
Likes a variety of soil types from rich and moist to dry and sandy. Drought tolerant.

Light Requirements:
Part Shade, Shade

Self-Fertile:
Yes

Growth Rate:
Fast

Zone Hardiness:
Outdoors 9+ with frost protection; Patio/Greenhouse 4+

Propagation:

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Small: 2" Peat Pots
Medium: 4" Coconut Coir Pot
Large: 6" Peat Pot
X-Large: 8-10" Pot 
Citrus: 4x14" Pot

View Full Plantable Pot Size & Materials Guide Here 

How to Grow Chaya

Plant Type: Perennial Herb, Shrub

Harvest Season: Year-round.

Mature Size: Up to 12 ft.

Soil & Moisture: Likes a variety of soil types from rich and moist to dry and sandy. Drought tolerant.

Exposure: Part Shade, Shade

Zone Hardiness: 9+