Tree spinach is considered as a good source of food in the Pacific region. The plant was primarily introduced in Cuba and eventually spread to Hawaii and other parts of the globe. It is time to get acquainted with the plant and the benefits that can gained. It's also know as chaya spinach is basically a leafy green vegetable under the genus Cnidoscolus with over 40 species.
The growing spinach plants can readily provide nutritious shoots and leaves for years and it is regarded as an important source of food where it naturally thrives in thickets and in the open forest.
The plant is commonly cultivated in Central America and Mexico and also planted in home gardens.
This spinach is best described as a large leafy shrub that can grow up to the height of 6-8 feet and strikingly resembles the hibiscus or cassava plant. It has 6-8 inch cupped leaves emanating from slender stems.
If you want to grow this plant, you have to take note that the shrubs bloom with both male and female miniature flowers and eventually white 1-inch seed pods. The stem of the plant has a white latex appearance while the young stems have stinging hairs, especially on the varieties that grow in the wild.
You have to take note that the spinach tree is sensitive to cold, thus it should be planted at the start of the warm season. The plant is propagated by using woody stem cuttings that are 6-12 inches long in soil that drains well.
It will take some time for the plant to establish but after the initial year, it can be pruned and harvesting can follow. About 60% of the foliage can be removed without causing any damage to the plant; it will even help promote a bushier and healthier growth. For a garden, a single plant is enough.
If you are going to plant the tree spinach in your garden, caring for it is simple. As an understory species, it can be grown under a shade. The spiraling of the roots usually should be trimmed so that they will grow downward. Make sure that the hole is deep enough so that they hang vertically.
Do not forget to add compost or green manure to the hole so that nutrients can be added before the tree spinach is planted. Press the soil firmly around the plant and add mulch so that moisture is retained as well as minimize the growth of weeds.
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