Food Plants International - Plant Fact Sheets Cnidoscolus aconitifolius - Chaya, Tree Spinach
Edible portion: Leaves, Vegetable
A shrub. It can grow 2 m tall. It can be a tree up to 7 m tall. It is a small densely shady, rounded tree. The central stem is about 10 cm across. The side branches are 2 cm thick and end abruptly. The cut stem exudes latex. Some varieties have stinging hairs on the leaves. The domesticated varieties need to be chosen. The leaves are large and dark green. They have deep lobes arranged like fingers on a hand. There are coarse teeth around the edge. The leaves can be 22 cm wide and 18 cm long. The leaves are not flat. The leaf stalks are 60 cm long. The flowers are small. The flowering stalks have 3-4 forks. The whole flower head is 2-10 cm across. The female flowers are near the lowest forks and the male flowers at the ends. The flowers have an unpleasant smell. Some varieties occur. The forms without stinging hairs are classified as Chayamansa group.
A tropical plant. It needs moderate moisture. It needs an average well-drained soil. It can grow in full sun or light shade. It often grows in dry regions but is also adapted to the hot humid tropics. It normally grows at low altitudes.