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TROPICAL PLANT CATALOG Printer friendly page  

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Cnidoscolus chayamansa, Maya Spinach Tree, Chaya Col, Kikilchay, Chaykeken

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 Cnidoscolus chayamansa
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Maya Spinach Tree, Chaya Col, Kikilchay, Chaykeken
Origin: Yucatan peninsula, Belize, Central America, Southern America
Large shrub 5-10 ftSmall tree 10-20 ftFull sunSemi-shadeRegular waterOrnamental foliageIrritatingEthnomedical plant.
Plants marked as ethnomedical and/or described as medicinal, are not offered as medicine but rather as ornamentals or plant collectibles.
Ethnomedical statements / products have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We urge all customers to consult a physician before using any supplements, herbals or medicines advertised here or elsewhere.EdibleSubtropical, cold hardy at least to 30s F for a short time

The plant is originally found on the Yucatan peninsula, but can now be found in the Southern, Central and Northern America, where the leaves are eaten. Chaya is a little known leafy green vegetable of dry regions of the tropics. The name comes from the Mayan chay. The genus Cnidoscolus consists of 40 or more species, but only chayamansa refers to the vegetable chaya. Chaya was introduced into Cuba, and from there into Florida. In South Florida it is often found as a rank shrub, but seldom is appreciated for its food value as a vegetable. Chaya is a large, leafy shrub reaching a height of about 6-8 feet. Each leaf is 6-8 inches across and is borne on a long slender petiole (leaf stem). Where the leaf stem connects to the leaf, the leaf veins are fleshy and cuplike. Chaya blooms frequently and both male and female flowers are borne together at the end of long flower stems. The wood of young stems is soft, easily broken, and susceptible to rot. When cut, the stem exudes a white latex. The use of gloves during harvesting is suggested to protect the hands from spines. Younger leaves and a bit of the stems are cut and used much like spinach. Large leaves are cut into manageable pieces before cooking. Leaves are immersed and simmered for 20 minutes and then served with oil or butter. Chaya is a good source of protein, vitamins, calcium, and iron. However, raw chaya leaves are highly poisonous. They contain a high content of hydrocyanic acid. In this respect chaya is similar to cassava. With chaya, 1 minute of boiling destroys most of the acid. The plant prefers a well drained soil with some to much water and lots of sun. The tiny flowers are white, and the plant can be reproduced both by seeds and cuttings.


Similar plants:

 Cnidoscolus chayamansa, Maya Spinach Tree, Chaya Col, Kikilchay, Chaykeken

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Cnidoscolus chayamansa, Maya Spinach Tree, Chaya Col, Kikilchay, Chaykeken

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Cnidoscolus chayamansa
Cnidoscolus chayamansa, Maya Spinach Tree, Chaya Col, Kikilchay, Chaykeken

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Cnidoscolus chayamansa, Maya Spinach Tree, Chaya Col, Kikilchay, Chaykeken

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Cnidoscolus chayamansa, Maya Spinach Tree, Chaya Col, Kikilchay, Chaykeken

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jc
chicago, il usa
18 Aug 2009
where can i buy chaya leaves near tampa or sarasota. can anyone please help?????
Stephen B. Clayton
Largo, FL USA
USDA Zone:9b
19 Jun 2008
I might add to the previous comments and information:

1.) BOIL chaya for 10-15 minutes or FRY for 3-5 minutes to completely remove the hydrocyanic acids;

2.) *DO NOT* cook Chaya in aluminum pots or pans! The hydrocyanic acid reacts with aluminum to form compounds that *will* cause diarrhea. Again, *DO NOT* cook Chaya in aluminum!;

3.) EAT LIKE A DEER! That is, do not use Chaya as your single food source, but vary your diet. Deer nibble on a little of this, a little of that and get good nutrition that way.

Chaya makes a very attractive landscape plant, with the added advantage that it is an extremely good food source, roughly 11 times more nutritious than spinach. It is frequently planted as a dooryard plant for HIV/AIDS patients because they can harvest 2-3 days' food in just 5 minutes or so.

I find Chaya to have almost zero pest or disease problems here in Florida - the acid content of the leaves seems to be an inhibitor.

My plants grow vigorously and tolerate coppicing *very* well. I coppice every Spring and cut the resulting stems into 12" pieces; even small pencil-sized sticks will root within 2-3 weeks.

Extremely drought resistant once established - I have seen Chaya growing in desert conditions where there was insufficient moisture for weeds!

Finally, I find Chaya *delicious!* I make Creamed Spinach and Creamed Chaya for guests, and the Creamed Chaya disappears, while the Creamed Spinach goes for leftovers. Chaya also is good for stuffing (once boiled) with pork/rice/tomato and is a great addition to salads and stir-fry (don't boil if stir-frying!).

More information on Chaya and other food plants can be found from an excellent organization that I highly recommend, ECHO, in Fort Myers, Florida - *nice,* dedicated people, passionately fighting global hunger by finding and researching food plant sources like Chaya, Moringa, Katuk, etc. and teaching other people how to grow it.

On the Web at http://www.echonet.org (bookstore and home page) and http://www.echotech.org (the technical/research/growing page).
Daniel Gilbride
Christiansted, VI 00820
USDA Zone:11
25 Oct 2007
This is a delicious plant, and given our relative humidity on the island of St. Croix, seems to not be highly prone to rot and/or mildew, mold, etc.

I am curious as to whether this nutritious supplement does have estrogen in any significant quantiies, as many survivors of some types of cancer are best to avoid estrogen, even if it from a plant. Will do some furthe research, and report what I have found.

Best wishes,

Dan G., Licensed Horticultural Consultant, US Virgin Islands
JD Rainwater
Tulum.QR,Mexico
11 Feb 2007
I have about 20 large chaya plants growing on my land directly on the beach in Tulum. Called Playa Chaya --- They grow wonderfully in the sandy soiil about 70m from the beach reaching appx 2 - 3 m. in height, full robust plants. Able to harvest up to 50 or more leaves at a time. I cook them in a stir fry with garlic and olive oil, a bit salt, onion, and then when well cooked to soften them add them to frijoles negro. Sort of like cooking collards - might be good with a chunk of pork, who knows. Ayyayyyayyyyy. Que sabrosa chaya.

I have recently brought a mes sof cuttings back to my home in Coconit Grove to establish them !
steve banyai
PORT MANSFIELD
USDA Zone:9
29 Nov 2006
chaya is used in Mexico and Texas to treat diabetes. A tea is drunk daily, in the morning, as a diuretic. i am sure the high vitamin content also helps. steve


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Maya Spinach Tree, Chaya Col, Kikilchay, Chaykeken - a little known leafy green vegetable. Younger leaves and a bit of the stems are cut and used much like spinach. Leaves are immersed and simmered for 20 minutes and then served with oil or butter. Chaya is a good source of protein, vitamins, calcium, and iron.
RECOMMENDED FERTILIZERS:
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Grown in 6"/1 gal pot, small plant

1 plant in stock
Last one


$29.00

 


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