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Chenopodium giganteum - D.Don.

Common Name Tree Spinach
Family Chenopodiaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
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    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Chenopodium giganteum Tree Spinach


Chenopodium giganteum Tree Spinach

 

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Chenopodium giganteum is a ANNUAL growing to 2.4 m (7ft 10in).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 5. It is in flower from July to September, and the seeds ripen from August to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Wind.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

C. amaranticolor. Coste.&Reyn.

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.

References   More on Edible Uses

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

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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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].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

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].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Propagation

Seed - sow spring in situ. Most of the seed usually germinates within a few days of sowing.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Chenopodium acuminatum Annual0.6 -  LMHNM201
Chenopodium albumFat Hen, LambsquartersAnnual0.9 0-0  LMHNM321
Chenopodium ambrosioidesMexican TeaAnnual/Perennial1.0 7-10  LMHNM233
Chenopodium ambrosioides anthelminticumWormseedAnnual/Perennial1.0 7-10  LMHNM232
Chenopodium auricomumQueensland BluebushAnnual1.8 -  LMHNM201
Chenopodium berlandieriSouthern Huauzontle, Pitseed goosefoot, Nuttall's goosefoot, Bush's goosefoot, Zschack's goosefootAnnual1.2 0-0  LMHNM201
Chenopodium bonus-henricusGood King HenryPerennial0.3 4-8  LMHNM421
Chenopodium botrysJerusalem Oak, Jerusalem oak goosefootAnnual0.6 0-0  LMHNM222
Chenopodium bushianumBush's goosefootAnnual0.6 0-0  LMHNM201
Chenopodium californicumCalifornia GoosefootAnnual0.6 -  LMHNDM212
Chenopodium canihua Annual0.0 -  LMHNM201
Chenopodium capitatumStrawberry Blite, Blite goosefootAnnual0.6 4-8  LMHNM311
Chenopodium cristatumCrested GoosefootAnnual0.6 -  LMHNM211
Chenopodium ficifoliumFig-Leaved GoosefootAnnual0.9 4-8  LMHNM201
Chenopodium foliosumLeafy goosefootAnnual0.6 4-8  LMHNM301
Chenopodium fremontiiGoosefoot, Fremont's goosefoot, Pringle's goosefootAnnual0.6 0-0  LMHNM201
Chenopodium glaucumOak-Leaved GoosefootAnnual0.3 -  LMHNM201
Chenopodium graveolensFoetid GoosefootAnnual0.9 -  LMHNM211
Chenopodium hybridum Annual1.5 -  LMHNM211
Chenopodium incanumMealy GoosefootAnnual0.5 -  LMHNM201
Chenopodium leptophyllumNarrow Leaved GoosefootAnnual0.6 0-0  LMHNM201
Chenopodium muraleNettleleaf GoosefootAnnual0.6 0-0  LMHNM201
Chenopodium nuttalliaeHuauzontle, Nuttall's goosefootAnnual0.6 0-0  LMHNM401
Chenopodium opulifoliumSeaport goosefootAnnual0.8 0-0  LMHSNM201
Chenopodium overiOver's goosefootAnnual0.8 0-0  LMHNM201
Chenopodium pallidicauleCañihuaAnnual0.6 -  LMHNDM301
Chenopodium polyspermumAll-Seed, Manyseed goosefootAnnual0.9 0-0  LMHNM201
Chenopodium pratericolaDesert GoosefootAnnual1.0 -  LMHNM201
Chenopodium quinoaQuinoa, Goosefoot, Pigweed, Inca WheatAnnual1.5 10-12 FLMHNM502
12

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.

 

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Expert comment

Author

D.Don.

Botanical References

200266

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

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

janice   Sun Feb 17 2008

Hi, I have a giant magenta tree spinach growing, but I am in new Zealand!!

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

June Dobbs   Mon Apr 20 2009

I've also just bought this from a Herbal Haven stall, so will report back!

   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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