Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Monarchs on Chaya Tree


Right before the regularly scheduled afternoon storm these two are in the mood for luv.
Interesting fact I read a while back: Monarchs are such an aggressive species when it comes to mating that they sometimes pick a partner from another species...interesting...
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4 comments:

GreenJeans said...

I have a couple of Chaya's that I'm growing from cuttings that I received last fall. I had no idea they bloomed like that or that they are such butterfly magnets! Now I'm looking forward to seeing them bloom. Love the pics!

gardeningfool said...

Yes, Chayas are a must for butterfly gardening...I have even seen the hummers coming around to see what the fuss was all about...not sure if you know, but the leaves are edible. That is why it is also called Spinach Tree. But, VERY IMPORTANT, be sure to boil the leaves for 10 minutes or they can be poisonous. It is an important part of some Caribbean country's diet.

Lastly, when you are pruning it or taking cuttings try to wear gloves as there are some kinds of chaya (the ones propagated from the wild) that can give you a painful rash (I should know!). I posted the info a few months back if you want to look around for it.

GreenJeans said...

Thanks for the Chaya info, I knew they were edible once cooked but mine aren't big enough to harvest enough leaves without stripping them bare.

Good to know about the rash. My dog bumped one of mine and broke off a couple of pieces so I stuck them in pots to root. Never once thought about it causing any problems. I'll look around for more of your chaya info. Thanks! :-)

gardeningfool said...

Hi there-

I looked up the dave's garden link photo to see what your Chaya looks like and-wouldn't you know it- we are both right!!


There are more than 40 types of chaya as it turns out...they are all in the Euphorbiaceae family and belong to the Genus Cnidoscolus Pohl.

Only the ones botanically classified as chayamansa are typically edible.

There are some chayas classified as a jatropha as well, which only makes things more confusing (and their flowers look almost exactly like the red jatropha integerrima only a tad smaller).

The type I have-which I purchased at Lukas nursery- is actually a chaya that must have been collected from the wild. I know this because wild chaya has more hairy stems than the cultivated chaya and my handling of the plant without gloves is what caused me to have a painful rash.

Hope this helps! :-)

GardeningFool