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Just out of curiousity I planted some Chia seeds in a pot. Turned out they grow like crazy and seem pretty undemanding.

Now I also noticed that they smell quite nicely, a bit like basil and wondered if the leaves can be eaten. Like for a salad or as a herb, because it seems super easy to grow them. I acutally wondered why we can’t eat the leaves of way more plants (I know you can eat nettles when boiled).

  • People use the leaves to make tea, so they're not going to kill you... but I don't know if they'd make a good salad.
    – Catija
    Jul 1, 2015 at 18:23
  • Do they? Can’t find anything about it. Only about Chai Tea. Jul 1, 2015 at 20:08
  • Yeah, I found a couple of articles that mention it. Here's one.
    – Catija
    Jul 1, 2015 at 20:09

7 Answers 7


I would just like to say that you can't decide on edibility based on the plant family. For example, both potatoes, tomatoes and deadly nightshade belong to the same family.

However, chia leaves can be used for herbal tea, which means they could probably also be eaten safely.


Wikipedia says chia is a plant that belongs to the mint family. According to the wiki article the FDA generally recognizes mint as safe

§182.10 Spices and other natural seasonings and flavorings, including mint, are generally regarded as safe (GRAS) for food uses in the United States.


  1. the wiki article also enumerates two mint species in particular and I don't know why (Peppermint Mentha piperita L. and Spearmint Mentha spicata L.).
  2. I just can't access the original website to check the original terms due to a server error.

Edit: The server works now. Only Peppermint (Mentha piperita L.) and Spearmint (Mentha spicata L.) are generally recognized as safe by the FDA (§182.10). The word "mint" in the cited paragraph from the wiki article doesn't mean the Mentha family but only the plants that are commonly called "mint". I have the impression that in the chia article this mint (Lamiaceae, a family) was mixed up with this mint (Mentha, a genus). As @rackandboneman pointed out, chia (Salvia hispanica) belongs to the family Lamiaceae (common name: mint) and belongs to the genus Salvia (common name: sage).

Edit 2: Sprouts are probably edible. The link directs to an online shop which sells chia seeds with growing instructions.

I leave this answer for the sake of completeness even it doesn't really answers the question.

  • At least this explains part of the smell. ;) Jul 2, 2015 at 0:19
  • 6
    Pennyroyal belongs to the mint family too, and is not that safe to eat. Neither is any Mentha family member that might or might not have resulted from cross pollination involving pennyroyal. It seems that salvia hispanica is also commonly called chia. Salvia is the sage family - and that family has several seriously poisonous members too! Jul 2, 2015 at 11:04
  • And yes, all lamiaceae - a lot of edible or medicinal herbs are, but not all lamiaeceae are edible/medicinal herbs. Jul 2, 2015 at 11:08

I snip my chia greens and top them on my salads. They are so easy to grow and I've had zero digestive or health issues and have been eating the leaves all Summer! They are one of the few plants that grow in this SW Florida Summer heat.


Since I wasn't crazy about the chia seeds, even though they were considered very nutritious, I found that they grew very easily in my garden. I sprinkled them on the soil and they sprouted and filled the area with a lot of soft, rather tasteless little plants. I clipped them off at the base by the handful and put them in my green smoothie or sprinkled them in my salad. I couldn't taste any particular flavor and never had any digestive problems.

  • That’s weird, mine smell and taste a bit like mint and actually work well for a tea. Apr 3, 2017 at 10:30

According to https://www.epicgardening.com/chia-plant/, the entire plant is edible and provides nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and protein.


I have been eating the whole plants for this summer so far, not gotten any bad effects, trying to find things such as stinging nettles, Chia plants seem to have a ton of protein and antioxidants. I can't imagine that they are toxic if eaten not in excess. For example, the flowers from the locusts trees are totally eligible, yet if you have never ate them before and eat a bunch, you will get sick to your stomach, it's not because of a toxin, but just that most of our bodies have not encountered such food,and at 1st will respond to it as a poison. At any rate I have never gotten ill from raw or cooked greens , even Chia plants, though I eat dandelion, burdock and other wild edibles, so I might not be the average person to speak about this. Do your own research, eat small amounts at first to see how well you tolerate them, though I don't think anyone is going to be hurt by eating Chia greens
I am open to any other ideas or experiences with this plant, as it's so easy to grow, has half the protein of Stinging Nettles, and is almost impossible to get rid of, much like minting that respect.

  • "I have never gotten ill" does not mean "the food is safe." Do you have any other sources for whether it's safe? Also, the list of other plants you've consumed is hardly relevant, maybe edit your question to make it clearer what the conclusion is.
    – Esther
    Jun 21, 2022 at 15:00

Chia Leaves are edible and can be used like spinach, says permaculture advocate Morag Gamble in this blog post on chia.

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