Tree Spinach / Chaya
Cnidoscolus aconitifolius var. ‘Chayamansa’
*** SEASONAL PRODUCT ***
Chayamansa is a huge drop for Livingseeds! This is the first time it's being released to South African gardeners, this outstanding crop is curated via one of our most trusted and prolific seed partners.
Chaya is one of the "lost crops" of the world, obscenely productive, intensely nutritious and easy to grow, one wonders why it has never become a staple food source.
What if I were to tell you that you could grow a tree with large, edible and very nutritious leaves that taste just like spinach? A tree that is drought tolerant, very fast growing and which does well in a pot, even, as a bonus being extremely decorative besides?
This months special drop, a first-of-its-kind release, is a tree just like that, something most of us have never even heard of, a staple food in Central America for thousands of years, even called the fountain of youth on the Yucatán Peninsula, we present to you Chaya, the spinach tree!
Considered one of the most productive leaf crops on Earth, Chaya provides more protein, calcium, iron, vitamin C, and carotenes than spinach, is in fact considered a superfood due to its insanely high nutritional value, and can be harvested continuously during summer as long as 50% of leaves are left on the tree at any one time.
Domesticated by the Mayan people, this close relative of cassava can grow into a tree many meters high, but is best trimmed back to about 2m high to enable easy and continuous harvesting. A huge plus in the garden is that it takes up very little horizontal space, providing a family with enough “spinach” in a fraction of the space needed for the real deal or Swiss Chard.
Like many leaf vegetables, and other crops such as beans and cassava, Chaya is not to be eaten raw nor should it be cooked in aluminium as it contains anti-nutrition factors that discourage herbivores and makes them inedible when unprocessed. But, as a bonus related to that, the plant seems to have no pests we can find.
Cooking for 5-10 minutes makes the leaves perfectly digestible, soft textured with a delicious, almost meaty spinach taste. As far as superfoods go, Chaya tastes much better than Moringa as a vegetable! The water from the cooked leaves is also a health giving tea, or a nutrient rich addition to soup stock. Used in combination with Moringa, it is said that it would be impossible for the regular user to suffer from any nutrient deficiencies, from Vitamin C to micronutrients! The modern Mayan people call this their own “Fountain of Youth”.
Research has shown that the plant has strong anti-glycaemic action, improving sugar metabolism, and is considered a functional food for diabetics.
One can cook this food in many ways, traditional uses include boiling, stir-fry, saute, in tortilla’s, in soups and stews, boiled and covered in cheese. Pretty much anything that one would use a leaf vegetable for bar salad.
This year I’m going to try and make dolmades from them instead of grape leaf. I think the texture and flavour will taste amazing!
You can also make a superfood powder from the leaves, oven or sun-drying (heat processing is important) makes them digestible in much the same way as cooking, and Chaya powder is all the rage in health shops as a nutritional supplement and energy boosting food additive.
The plant is cold sensitive, but for people in colder areas of the country keep your tree spinach potted, and move it into the garage over winter while dormant. They require very little sun or care when fully asleep.
Every single aspect of this plant makes it a winner!
Cultivation: Full sun. Enjoys rich soil. Drought hardy but appreciates water in summer. You will be provided with a strong, fresh cutting which has its bottom clearly marked. Cuttings root fast but give them a few months to settle in before starting to harvest regularly.
Propagation: From cuttings taken in summer. Tree bears best from its second season.
Plant as per instructions above.
Chayamansa Tree Spinach
- Product Code: 326-LS777
- Availability: Out Of Stock