Wednesday 10 January 2024

In My Seed Box For 2024 - Tree Spinach


In 2023 I was planning to try Chenopodiumgiganteum (Tree Spinach) from Mr Fothergill’s Item Code:39203 £2.70 for Approx 1000 seeds. Due to fighting cancer it didn't happen last year, so I'm planning to make the magic happen this year.

Tree spinach has eye-catching bright magenta with almost sparkly growing tips. Spinach plants can grow up to 2m tall, hence the name Tree spinach.

This vigorous plant can be harvested as a cut and come again leaf from 25cm tall. Easy to grow, adds columns of height and colour to the veg garden.

It has intense, almost glittery, brilliant pink baby leaves which look dazzling in a mixed leaf salad. Best picked when tender and very young, for use in salads or as a spinach substitute. It is fantastic melted in butter and keeps its magenta when cooked. Once it's tall, it does become a lot coarser.

Chenopodium giganteum self-seeds prolifically, so keep harvesting the plants before they flower, or whip them out to feed to chickens or put on the compost before they run to seed.

Here is an article about Chenopodium giganteum (Tree Spinach) from Alys Fowler: Tree spinach | Gardens | The Guardianthat I did find informative

Now I did go looking for YouTube videos about Tree Spinach but what I found was not the variety Mr Fothergill’s is selling and Alys Flower has written about, that variety Tree Spinach (Chaya) cannot be eaten raw as salad and needs cooking for 20 minutes as there are traces of Cyanide in the leaves! 

I thought they may be different varieties and wrote to Mr Fothergill's Marketing Services manager to ensure I was correct? 

Hi Alan

These are two very different type of Tree Spinach. Our tree spinach Chenopodium giganteum (the one Alys Fowler also mentions) is completely different from Chaya- Mexican Tree Spinach Cnidoscolus aconitifolius (or Mayan Spinach). So, while the latter requires care in preparation, the former is completely safe.

 Hope this helps.

It did help to put my mind at ease, so remember if you find YouTube videos about Tree Spinach it's more than likely going to be the Chaya variety.   


Grow in any well-drained fertile soil, in a sunny or semi-shaded position. In the ideal growing conditions, they can grow quite rapidly and may require staking if they become too tall


Sow indoors in early spring or sow direct in early summer, once the soil has warmed up

Suggested planting locations and garden types

Patio and container plants


Harvest the leaves as required, to keep the plant compact and cropping well


Generally, pest-free


Generally disease-free

In My Seed Box For 2024 - Index

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