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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.)

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  1. Ressource principale
    01/01/2006 Martin Price, Ph.D., co-fondateur d’ECHO et directeur du service de ressources agricoles d'ECHO, considère que « la chaya est un des cinq plus importants aliments végétaux sous-utilisés que nous distribuons à ECHO. Je lui donne cette importance parce qu’elle pousse bien tant dans les régions...
  2. La chaya provient du Mexique. Elle est utilisée depuis longtemps par les Mayas de la péninsule du Yucatan. Le terme «chaya» vient de «chay», le nom maya donné à cette plante. La chaya est également présente dans certaines régions du Honduras et du Guatemala. Elle a été introduite dans d’autres...
  3. 20/01/2003 Chaya is considered to be one of the five most important food plants ECHO distributes.It achieves this rank because of its ability to thrive in both arid and rainy regions, its little need for care or extra fertility, its lack of insect or disease pests, and its exceptional nutritional value.”
  4. THIS RECIPE BOOK IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE ONLY IN SPANISH. Chaya is very nutritious; a 100 gram serving (about 50 – 60 fresh leaves) contains the following: Protein: It has the same amount of protein as an egg. Protein is important for muscle development. Iron: It has two times the iron of a...
  5. 20/07/2003 In response to the articles on leaf protein concentrate and on chaya in EDN Issue 78, a reader asked whether or not leaf protein concentrate (LPC) could safely be made from chaya.
  6. 28/02/2017 K[] est une commune rurale située à l’ouest du Burkina. Il ya de cela dix ans, un missionnaire américain avait introduit la Chaya qui est devenue un légume-feuille bien connu et bien consommé des paysans de K[]. Nous avons été surpris de savoir que les habitants ont fait des feuilles de chaya une...
  7. Some tropical crops contain cyanogenic glycosides, toxic substances that release hydrocyanic acid (HCN; also referred to as cyanide) when cells are crushed. Consuming these plants without cooking them can cause cyanide poisoning, with varying effects depending on cyanide levels and how long a...
  8. 20/01/2012 The chaya plant is native to the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, and to parts of Guatemala. It is similar to spinach and other greens, but grows on a bush that can get to 3 meters (10 ft.) tall and 2 meters (6.5 ft.) wide. The leaves are about the size of an adult hand. Chaya leaves are one of the...
  9. 20/01/2003 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.
  10. 01/01/2014 Penny Rambacher, une nutritionniste agréée qui travaille avec Miracles in Action au Guatemala. Il y a environ huit ans, Martin Price, alors directeur général d’ECHO, avait suggéré à Penny que la réintroduction de la chaya pourrait être une façon importante de lutter contre la malnutrition dans ce...
  11. 01/11/2017 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...
  12. 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...
  13. 19/07/1992 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...
  14. 18/10/2016 Cory Thede, travaillant sur la côte nord d'Haïti, a envoyé une note sur une plante locale de chaya avec une branche (Figure 8) qui s’est transformée en une variété sauvage piquante. Il a fait le commentaire suivant: «Quand je me suis adossé par inadvertance contre elle, j'ai senti des piqûres et...
  15. 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...
  16. 26/03/2015 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,...
  17. 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...
  18. 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...
  19. Miracles in Action has brochures about chaya available in English and Spanish. A collection of recipes for chaya, in Spanish, is also available for download: Chaya Folleto – Español Chaya brochure – English Recetas con Chaya Miracles in Action seeks out under-served pockets of need in rural...
  20. 24/09/2013 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.
  21. 14/11/2017 Margaret Tagwira will share about the successful promotion of chaya in Zimbabwe
  22. 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...
  23. 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,...
  24. 17/10/2018 Le chaya (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius) ou épinard arboricole est un arbuste vivace à croissance rapide(NT53). C'est l'une des nombreuses plantes alimentaires contenant des cyanogènes, composés chimiques pouvant produire du cyanure d'hydrogène (HCN) toxique lors de la consommation de l'aliment...
  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. Creole Document - translation of ECHO flyer about Chaya