Chaya (Cnidoscolus chayamansa) is nicknamed tree spinach but that’s kind of like calling iceberg lettuce spinach. Chaya contains more than twice as much protein, calcium, Vitamin C, iron, fiber and caronteniods as spinach, according to a USDA report published through Purdue University.
It’s also much easier to grow. It’s a dietary staple on the semi-arid Yucatan Peninsula but also thrives in Florida’s hot, rainy summers. We grow both hog chaya, which has larger leaves, and the more decorative species with smaller, deeply serrated leaves and pretty white flowers that attract butterflies. Please let us know if you have a choice, otherwise we'll ship the species we have most of at the time.
Like many tropical plants (including spinach to a lesser degree), chaya contains hydrocyanic glucosides in its leaves. Cooking the leaves inactivates the toxic compound.
In colder climates they grow well in a sunny window, although you'll want to put it outside once temperatures are consistently above freezing. They've come back from the ground with temperatures as low as the mid-20s but they're among the first plants to lose their leaves when it gets near 30 degrees.
It’s that time of year again, and temperatures are dropping across the country. We’ll continue shipping in warm areas, but we will have to stop shipping to places where temperatures are below freezing. We also must limit shipping to states west of the Mississippi River because most of those shipments seem to go through the Chicago airport where they appear to spend the night outside in a truck. We’ll check temperatures here and stop shipping when the low drops below 30 degrees. Orders paid through Google and Amazon will automatically be cancelled because they expect all products to ship within seven days. If you’d like to place the order for shipment when possible, please include a note in the comment section of the order form.