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Chaya (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius)1, sometimes called the spinach tree, is a fast-growing perennial shrub native to Mexico that produces lots of attractive, large, dark green leaves. It can grow well on a wide range of soils in both hot, rainy climates and areas with occasional drought. It grows easily and quickly, especially at higher temperatures, and new leaves grow quickly after harvesting. The amount of leaves per square foot of garden space is impressive (see photos). Leaves have lower moisture content than most other green leafy plants like spinach or lettuce. Young leaves and the thick, tender stem tips are cut and boiled as“spinach”. Leaves do not have a strong or distinct taste, but tend to take on flavors from whatever seasonings are added.

Perhaps the most noticeable difference from many kinds of cooked leaves is that chaya leaves have a “dense” feel to them. Chaya is exceptionally high in protein, calcium, iron, and vitamin A. It lacks pest problems and is unlikely to become weedy, because it very rarely sets seed and is generally propagated only by cuttings. (ECHO has grown chaya for over 30 years and only one plant produced a few seeds one year. They germinated readily and showed high variability in traits. Though the parent was a special variety from Belize that did not have stinging hairs, most of the seedlings had what appeared to be large and even branched stinging hairs. Our best variety today came from one of those seedlings and is completely free of stinging hairs.)



  1. Recurso clave
    1/1/2006 El Dr. Martin Price, cofundador de ECHO y antiguo jefe del Departamento de Recursos Agrícolas de ECHO, afirma, “Yo consideraría la chaya como una de las cinco plantas alimenticias más importantes subutilizadas que ECHO distribuye. Le doy esta clasificación por su habilidad de prosperar en...
  2. La chaya, llamada quelite en nuestro país, es una planta que ha sido cultivada en Mesoamérica desde tiempos prehispánicos. Los mayas la llamaban chay y fueron quienes la heredaron a sus descendientes en la península de Yucatán (México), y Guatemala, aunque pasaron muchos años para que se...
  3. Native to Mexico, this is a fast-growing, drought-tolerant, perennial shrub, typically reaching 3 m (10 ft) in height. As one of its common names (spinach tree) implies, it is grown for its dark-green leaves, which it produces in abundance.
  4. 20/1/2003 La chaya una de las cinco plantasalimenticias más importantes que ECHO distribuye. Le doy esta calificación debido a su habilidad paraprosperar tanto en regiones áridas como lluviosas, su poca necesidad de atención o de fertilización adicional,su falta de plagas de insectos o enfermedades y su...
  5. 1/1/2014 Recientemete leímos correspondencia de Penny Rambacher, R.D., una dietista registrada que trabaja con Miracles in Action en Guatemala. Hace alrededor de ocho años, el Presidente de ECHO en ese entonces, Dr. Martin Price, sugirió a Penny que la reintroducción de la chaya podría ser una manera...
  6. Growables Description Chaya, an important perennial vegetable, is a vigorous and attractive large leafy shrub, particularly tolerant of poor growing conditions. Leaves Dark green, alternate, simple, slick surfaced often with some hairs, and palmately lobed (much like the leaves of okra). Each...
  7. 17/10/2018 La chaya (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius) o árbol de espinaca es un arbusto perenne nutritivo y de rápido crecimiento (TN 53). Es una de las muchas plantas alimenticias que contienen cianógenos, compuestos químicos que pueden producir el tóxico cianuro de hidrógeno (HCN) cuando se consume el alimento...
  8. 20/7/2003 En respuesta a los artículos sobre concentrado de proteína de hoja y sobre la chaya en la Edición 78 de EDN, un lector preguntó si el concentrado de proteína de hoja (LPC por sus siglas en inglés) podría o no podría obtenerse en forma segura de la chaya.
  9. 28/2/2017 K[]is a rural municipality located in the west of Burkina Faso. Ten years ago, an American missionary introduced Chaya which became a well-known and well-consumed leafy vegetable for the peasants of K[]. The peasants have made Chaya leaves a component of their diet which they consume in several...
  10. Algunos cultivos tropicales contienen glucósidos cianogénicos, sustancias tóxicas que liberan ácido cianhídrico (HCN, también conocido como cianuro) cuando las células se trituran. El consumo de estas plantas sin cocinarlas puede causar envenenamiento por cianuro, con efectos variables...
  11. 20/1/2003 Chaya is sometimes dubbed "the spinach tree." It is a fast growing drought and disease-resistant shrub that provides large quantities of edible, very nutritious leaves.
  12. 1/11/2017 In 1998, ECHO USA mailed six chaya stalks to Indonesia. Today, a conservatively estimated 10,000 households across Indonesia are benefiting from this ‘Mayan Superfood.” Come hear about an indigenous grower-to-grower movement and how its promoters in the informal association, “Komunitas Chaya...
  13. The tree spinach (Cnidoscolus chayamansaMcVaughn, Euphorbiaceae), called "chaya" in south Texas, is popular in Mexico and Central America and has been introduced into the United States (mainly South Texas and Florida) for potential uses as a leafy vegetable and/or as a medicinal plant. The plant...
  14. 19/7/1992 Dr. Rosling does not like the statement “cassava contains cyanide.” A food that contained pure hydrogen cyanide could be easily detoxified (it would be driven off as a gas by cooking). If any free cyanide is present in cassava, it can easily be driven off into the air by temperatures over 28C (82...
  15. 18/10/2016 Cory Thede, quien trabaja en la costa norte de Haití, envió una nota sobre una planta local de chaya con una rama (Figura 8) que mutó para convertirse en un tipo silvestre punzante. Comentó: “Cuando accidentalmente me recosté sobre ella sentí la picazón y me provocó sarpullido con picazón en mi...
  16. 19/11/2014 The world relies on just five crops for more than 50 percent of their food intake.If anything happened to any one of these crops, millions would starve to death.In her presentation Penny will explain why it is important to select underutilized, nutritious crops, and learn everything you can about...
  17. 26/3/2015 There are perennial vegetables that are quite resilient and also highly nutritious. These vegetables can significantly improve diet, increase the body’s ability to capture the value of foods, and be incorporated into common foods. This presentation will discuss producing and using Chaya, Katuk,...
  18. Chaya belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family. It is native to the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, where it grows naturally in thickets and open forests. It is widely cultivated in Mexico and Central America, often planted in hedges and home gardens. It has been introduced to southern Florida and...
  19. Chaya grows easily in Cambodia Chaya (Cnidoscolus chayamansa or C. aconitifolius) is a perennial plant that grows easily throughout Cambodia. Many people know it by the name “spinach tree”. If left alone, a Chaya plant can grow to be a small tree about 4- 5m high. By pruning the plant, it grows...
  20. Miracles in Action(Milagros en Acción) posee folletos sobre la chaya que están disponibles en inglés y español. Una colección de recetas para la chaya en español también está disponible para su descarga: Chaya Folleto – Español Chaya brochure – English Recetas con Chaya En Milagros en Acción...
  21. 24/9/2013 In this short video we expose a little bit of the beauty and wealth of Guatemala as a Megadiverse country, and present Chaya as an ancient superfood to combat malnutrition today.
  22. 14/11/2017 Margaret Tagwira will share about the successful promotion of chaya in Zimbabwe
  23. Abstract -Animal Feed Science and Technology, 1999 Chaya leaf meal (CLM) (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius(Mill.) Johnston) was evaluated as a poultry feed ingredient in a series of two pilot studies. In experiment I, diets containing 0, 25, 50 and 75g CLM kg1were fed, ad libitum, to 480 day-old broiler...
  24. 20/7/2013 Chaya is rich in essential nutrients Chaya leaves are an excellent source of a number of essential nutrients for a healthy, balanced diet. In fact, Chaya is more nutritious than many green leafy vegetables such as spinach, Chinese cabbage and amaranth. The leaves are very high in protein,...
  25. This value chain analysis was completed by Nadezda Amaya as part of the international Programme “Linking agrobiodiversity value chains, climate adaptation and nutrition: Empowering the poor to manage risk” supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the European Union...
  26. General description and special characteristics – Sometimes called the spinach tree, chaya is a fast-growing perennial shrub native to Mexico that produces large, dark green leaves. Relatively new to Asia, the young leaves and thick succulent stems of chaya are a good source of protein, calcium,...
  27. Creole Document - translation of ECHO flyer about Chaya
  28. 27/1/2020 La 26a Conferencia Internacional Anual de Agricultura de ECHO se celebró en noviembre de 2019. A continuación se presentan resúmenes breves de algunas de las sesiones plenarias y talleres. Éstas y otras charlas, vídeos y presentaciones de diapositivas están disponibles enn ECHOcommunity.org.