Chaya (Spinach Tree)

Pronounced (Chai-yah)

Cnidoscolus chayamansa

This is an excellent plant for the edible tropical-theme landscape. In the Pensacola coastal sand hills climate zone it grows well. It would be equally expected to perform well in a similar climate zone. It can freeze down as we have a couple freezes a year; however, if the plant is established (1 year in the ground), it should regrow 6-8 feet by fall. My personal approach to the forest garden is “No Heroic Measures” to keep a plant in the garden and this plant meets that criteria.

As a STEP on a transition path for individual and family food security, this plant is a direct replacement for the traditional Collard Greens recipes of the South. Just take your favorite greens recipe and use chaya. And guess what? It is a localized harvest – May until freeze or all winter if no freeze – where collards are a localized harvest October through April. So between collards and chaya your family recipe can be used year-round.

Chef Andrea Miller Harvesting Chaya for Garden hors d’oeuvre Popup

Author: Duane Tant