Chaya (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius), sometimes called the spinach tree, is a fast-growing perennial shrub native to Mexico that produces lots of attractive, large, dark green leaves. It can grow well on a wide range of soils in both hot, rainy climates and areas with occasional drought. It grows easily and quickly, especially at higher temperatures, and new leaves grow quickly after harvesting. The amount of leaves per square foot of garden space is impressive. Leaves have lower moisture content than most other green leafy plants like spinach or lettuce. Leaves of chaya contain cyanogenic glycosides, toxic substances that release hydrocyanic acid (HCN; also referred to as cyanide or prussic acid) when cells are crushed. Consuming these plants without cooking them can cause cyanide poisoning, with effects that vary depending on cyanide levels and how long a person or animal has been eating that plant. Leaves must be boiled for 20 minutes to remove all cyanogenic compounds.