Genetic Diversity in Nutritious Leafy Green Vegetable-Chaya (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius)


Chaya (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius ssp. aconitifolius Breckon) is a fast-growing, semi-perennial, and semi-woody Mesoamerican euphorbiaceous. It is used as a leafy green vegetable and prevailingly cropped in tropical savanna climate. However, cropping of chaya is possible in both dryer and more humid climates. Although the crop has its origin in the Maya region of Southeast Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize, chaya is popular throughout Mesoamerica. Due to its high nutritional value, cooked chaya leaves are an essential ingredient of the diet of Maya communities, especially in Southeast Mexico. Chaya is also used as an ornamental plant, for forage, and in traditional Maya medicine, where it is used to cure a wide range of diseases such as diabetes, kidney problems, arteriosclerosis, gallstones, and high cholesterol. Chaya can be called a semi-domesticated plant: Apart from wild chaya, there are four chaya varieties, whose grade of domestication varies from cropped almost wild phenotypes to entirely domesticated: ‘Chayamansa,’ ‘Redonda,’ ‘Estrella,’ and ‘Picuda.’




Ebel R., de Jesús Méndez Aguilar M., Castillo Cocom J.A., Kissmann S. (2019) Genetic Diversity in Nutritious Leafy Green Vegetable—Chaya (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius). In: Nandwani D. (eds) Genetic Diversity in Horticultural Plants. Sustainable Development and Biodiversity, vol 22. Springer, Cham.
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