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Chenopodium giganteum - D.Don.                
                 
Common Name Tree Spinach
Family Chenopodiaceae
Synonyms C. amaranticolor. Coste.&Reyn.
Known Hazards The leaves and seeds of all members of this genus are more or less edible. However, many of the species in this genus contain saponins, though usually in quantities too small to do any harm. Although toxic, saponins are poorly absorbed by the body and most pass straight through without any problem. They are also broken down to a large extent in the cooking process. Saponins are found in many foods, such as some beans. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish[K]. The plants also contain some oxalic acid, which in large quantities can lock up some of the nutrients in the food. However, even considering this, they are very nutritious vegetables in reasonable quantities. Cooking the plants will reduce their content of oxalic acid. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition[238].
Habitats Weed infested places[74].
Range E. Asia - N. India. Naturalized in S. France[50].
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun

Summary       

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Chenopodium giganteum is a ANNUAL growing to 2.4 m (7ft 10in).
It is hardy to zone 5. It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Wind.

USDA hardiness zone : Coming soon


Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Chenopodium giganteum Tree Spinach


Chenopodium giganteum Tree Spinach
   
Habitats       
 Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Leaves;  Seed.
Edible Uses:

Leaves - cooked[46, 61, 105, 177]. Of excellent quality, they are a spinach substitute[74]. The raw leaves should only be eaten in small quantities, see the notes above on toxicity. Seed - cooked. Ground into a powder and used with wheat or other cereals in making bread etc. The seed is small and fiddly, about 1.5mm in diameter[266], it should be soaked in water overnight and thoroughly rinsed before it is used in order to remove any saponins.
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.



None known
Other Uses
Dye;  Wood.

Gold/green dyes can be obtained from the whole plant[168]. The stout stems have been used for making walking sticks[266].
Cultivation details                                         
An easily grown plant, succeeding in most soils but disliking shade[1, 200]. It prefers a moderately fertile soil[200]. This species is closely related to C. album[50], and was probably derived from it through cultivation[266]. The tree spinach is sometimes cultivated for its edible leaves[74], there are some named varieties[183]. 'Magentaspreen' is a vigorous plant growing 1.5 metres tall. It has large leaves, the new growth is a brilliant magenta colour. Tastiest when young, the leaves are eaten raw or cooked like spinach[183]. A warm climate is required in order to ripen the seed[74].
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Seed - sow spring in situ. Most of the seed usually germinates within a few days of sowing.
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
D.Don.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
200266
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[50]? Flora Europaea
An immense work in 6 volumes (including the index). The standard reference flora for europe, it is very terse though and with very little extra information. Not for the casual reader.
[61]Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
[74]Komarov. V. L. Flora of the USSR.
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers.
[105]Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World.
The most comprehensive guide to edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
[168]Grae. I. Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants.
A very good and readable book on dyeing.
[177]Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption.
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[266] Flora of China
On-line version of the Flora - an excellent resource giving basic info on habitat and some uses.

Readers comment                                         
 
Elizabeth H.
Raul Rodriguez Thu Aug 19 02:55:32 2004
Hello I am interrested in growing this plant. My aunt told me that they used to eat the plant as a salad 60 years ago. My aunt is from monterrey mexico. IF you know where i can buy one of these chaya trees or seeds, please let me know..........RRodriguez
Elizabeth H.
janice Sun Feb 17 2008
Hi, I have a giant magenta tree spinach growing, but I am in new Zealand!!
Elizabeth H.
Patricia Jones Sat May 17 2008
I have recently received a plant from Herbal Haven and am interested to see how it thrives and what it tastes like etc. Pat Jones
Elizabeth H.
June Dobbs Mon Apr 20 2009
I've also just bought this from a Herbal Haven stall, so will report back!
Elizabeth H.
Fri Jun 26 2009
I am growing this in my clay soil garden in full sun for the first time. Bought it in a local garden centre labelled as Tree Spinach with all other herb plants. Waiting to see flowers and what happens next year.
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