Chaya, Tree Spinach

Cnidoscolus chayamansa

Family: Euphorbiaceae (yoo-for-bee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Cnidoscolus (nye-DOS-ko-lus) (Info)
Species: chayamansa (chay-uh-MANZ-uh) (Info)





Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Grown for foliage



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)


8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)


USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Blooms repeatedly

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From woody stem cuttings

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Tempe, Arizona(2 reports)

Ceres, California

Port Hueneme, California

San Diego, California

Santa Barbara, California

Alachua, Florida

Boynton Beach, Florida

Delray Beach, Florida

Edgewater, Florida

Fort Lauderdale, Florida(2 reports)

Green Cove Springs, Florida

Hobe Sound, Florida

Hollywood, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida

Jupiter, Florida

Lakeland, Florida

Orange Springs, Florida

Palm Bay, Florida

Port Saint Lucie, Florida

Rockledge, Florida

Sarasota, Florida

Seffner, Florida

Sorrento, Florida

Tampa, Florida(2 reports)

Wellborn, Florida

Zephyrhills, Florida

Ensenada, Puerto Rico

Mayaguez, Puerto Rico

Austin, Texas

Corpus Christi, Texas(2 reports)

Hallettsville, Texas

Houston, Texas

Port Isabel, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Christiansted, Virgin Islands

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Apr 17, 2017, r_gomes from vila viosa,
Portugal wrote:

ive some chaya growing . can someone explain me what diference of two varieties? so i could identify the one i've ?

i assume is this ones?
Cnidoscolus chayamansa
Cnidoscolus aconitifolius


On Oct 24, 2014, Merrykh from Rosedale, CA wrote:

Hello, Vittorio- I just bought 4 cuttings from Florida Food Forests and the healthy cuttings, about 8" long, are ready to just stick in the ground. Here is his email: [email protected]


On Mar 15, 2014, Veltorio from Bartow, FL wrote:

Does anyone know a reliable source to obtain this plant?


On Jul 6, 2013, AnnieLinda from Leming, TX wrote:

I have grown Chaya, both varieties, here in south central Texas for about 20 years. I am in zone 8b and have had temps down to 16F, including 3 whole days that did not get above freezing. My Chaya cnidoscolus have always come back from the base in severe winters and often only freeze half way down in milder winters. I lost the C. aconitifolius in a severe freeze.

The little white flowers are born at the very top of the growth and are extremely fragrant, smelling like lemon blossoms. I had never seen the flowers before because they are above my head but spent hours and hours one day trying to locate that fabulous scent. It took a ladder but I found it was definitely the Chaya. If you cut the blooming tops off at least 6" you can bring them inside as cut flowers.
... read more


On Nov 18, 2011, kitawhit from Houston, TX wrote:

Overall I absolutely love this plant. But I have a question about it. Last year, I brought the plants in for the freezes and they did okay. And the few that I left outside and lost actually recovered amazingly enough ( i guess the roots somehow survived) but this year, although it has not froze yet, it has gotten down to lower 40s. I have noticed some leaves turned white on edges and brown on the stems. Is this a disease? or is it the cold? I am worried about it being a disease because all of the plants are all cuttings from the same plant. Has anyone had a similar experience?

I also noticed a couple of them during the summer had the bottom leaves get yellow, though I figured the soil for those particular plants must not have had enough nutrients.


On Mar 22, 2008, Michaelp from Piney Flats, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

I have a variety of Chaya that I eat raw, -the people I got it from have been eating it raw in their area for hundreds of years, it produces no flowers, but roots well from cuttings, --I eat it in salads or just by its self most mornings, --I tried to eat enough to get the first sign of the Cyanide toxin,[nausia] but after a half pound I gave up, --any more than that,- the discomfort would have been from over-eating, --It has a very good flavor , it is one of my favorite vegetables.


On Oct 11, 2007, ssanchez from Boynton Beach, FL wrote:

I love this bush! My mom gave me two branches, just twigs less than a foot long, and told me to stick them in the ground. I did. They grew. One is still sort of twiggy, but the other is several feet tall, a couple of feet wide, and has tons of flowers on stalks on the top. My butterflies nectar on it all the time.


On May 19, 2006, azuerosagro from pedasi,
Panama wrote:

I have had huge success using chaya in complex agroforestry systems in panama. it thrives in full sun and part shade and on slopes and flat land, in both the pacific and carribbean side of the country, rainforestry and dry tropical forestry. excellent food with many possiblilities for food preparation, the young tender tips can also be boiled and eaten. cuttings take easier if left for a while to scarify.


On Mar 5, 2006, prometeo21 from Mayaguez, PR (Zone 11) wrote:

A really nitritious plant. If you want to propagate from cuttings dont put the cuttings in water. Just let them in a place away from the sun and cold winds for 3 day so the cut dries. Water in this cut can make the cutting to rot. I had propagated this plant for years and thats the best way. It will take roots in about 2 weeks if the weather is warm. Keep it moist, NOT WET. In cold climate or in frost area just start cuttings indoors each fall and replant in the spring once the danger of frost has pased. Its grows really fast. Don't take too small cuttings its better to use ones from 8" to 12". You can take at least one third of the plants leaves for cooking or medicinal purposes without causing too much stress in the plant. Try to keep at least three plants in your home so if one dies you... read more


On Jun 25, 2005, shoshanim from San Diego, CA wrote:

This plant has some pros and cons. My Mexican neighbor loves it to wrap tamales in, and the big, bright green leaves have an intense sweet fragrance. I dug up a clump of this plant for my neighbor, I believe it has survived in a pot. The flower spikes look like long white rat tails, nothing special. It loves the sun... or loved the sun. I found it will overtake and smother anything. Including my roses. I dug it up. It's actually coming back. Very tenacious. It will take me a long time to eradicate this thing. It will happily take over any south-facing wall with well-drained soil. It would look lovely with some bougainvillea trained over it.


On Mar 24, 2005, saltcedar from Austin, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

shoshanim [above] is almost certainly describing Hoja Santa (Piper auritum); not Chaya Mansa,


On Mar 6, 2005, gooley from Hawthorne, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I'm told that flowers are rare and seeds almost unknown.. Experiments with chaya tea on diabetic rabbits show that it seems to first cause a slight spike in blood sugar, then provide some control of hyperglycemia; it's also way higher in protein, potassium, readily-absorbed iron, and Vitamin C than most greens (e.g. spinach). Maybe I can get cuttings at a Mexican market -- haven't tried yet -- but seed may be impossible to get.


On Nov 3, 2004, Yuska from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Very attractive plant. Marginal outdoors in 8b winters, but one plant did come back from roots this spring (I'm planning to repot it for moving indoors during freezes this season.) Several people have asked me for cuttings but I have not been able to oblige because there is no side branching. This is the third year (first year was as a houseplant) and have not had any blooms. Would like to find a soiurce for seeds. Have not yet tried it as a vegetable. Yuska


On Feb 27, 2004, jri from Athens, GA wrote:

This is a fantastic ornamental vegetable. It is shrubby, normally gorinw to about 2m in height, but if well tended can become a handsome small tree of about 6m tall. The leaves are edible and highly nutritious (more vitamin C per weight than oranges, more vitamin A than almost anything else, and more protein and vitamins than spinach), but do have low levels of cyanide-like compounds which can be completely removed by cooking for ~10 min or thoroughly blending (they make great healthy shakes). The leaves are great for wrapping tamales or served like spinach. The plant is incredibly hardy, grown by stem cuttings and I have successfully kept it alive (but not flourishing) in a bottle of water in a low-light office AND in full sun with no irrigation in the desserts of California.
... read more


On Jun 24, 2003, carlin from Campbell, CA wrote:

The toxicity can be completely removed by cooking for 10 minutes or more. Do not cook in aluminum cookware.