Chaya (Cnidoscolus chayamansa) commonly called Tree Spinach is a very nutritious plant with high protein, iron, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins. Reaching 3 meters (10 feet high) Chaya has maple-shaped leaves that are delicious steamed or cooked. Chaya is resistant to disease and pests, is highly productive, and needs little inputs to thrive in both arid and rainy areas. A fast-growing perennial shrub, Chaya is easily propagated by stem cuttings.
To learn about Chaya, I spoke with Dr. Anabel Ford, director of the MesoAmerican Research Center. To hear Dr. Ford and some of the Mayan Forest Gardeners in a 2008 interview on Sustainable World Radio, click here.
Note: Chaya contains hydrocyanic glycosides, some people recommend cooking it before eating it.