If you would like to support this site, please consider Donating.
Useful Temperate Plants

Beta vulgaris (Leaf Beet Group)

L.

Amaranthaceae

+ Synonyms

Beta cicla L.

Beta vulgaris cicla (L.) W.D.J.Koch.

Beta vulgaris flavescens (Lam.) Lam.

Common Name: Spinach Beet

Beta vulgaris (Leaf Beet Group)
Ruby Chard - some of the outside leaves have been harvested
Photograph by: Joe Mabel
Creative Commons License
Beta vulgaris (Leaf Beet Group) Beta vulgaris (Leaf Beet Group) Beta vulgaris (Leaf Beet Group) Beta vulgaris (Leaf Beet Group) Beta vulgaris (Leaf Beet Group)

General Information

Beta vulgaris (Leaf Beet Group) is an erect, biennial plant producing a rosette of leaves around 60cm tall, with a flowering stem that can be 150cm or more tall.
Spinach beet and the various chards are often grown in gardens for their edible leaves and leafstalks. They are seldom grown commercially because of the difficulty in transporting them to market before they wilt. There are also forms with colourful leaves that are grown as ornamentals.

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

Range

A cultivated form of Beta vulgaris, it is not known in the wild

Habitat

Not known in a truly wild situation.

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
HabitBiennial
Height0.50 m
PollinatorsWind
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Ornamental

Cultivation Details

Beta vulgaris is originally a native of the warm temperate zone, though it has spread further north to the cold temperate zone. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 15 - 25°c, but can tolerate 4 - 35°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about -6°c, but young growth can be severely damaged at 0°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 600 - 1,500mm, but tolerates 500 - 2,500mm[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
A very easily grown plant, it succeeds in sun or light shade in moist soils but prefers a rich well-drained light neutral to alkaline soil[
33
Title
Rare Vegetables for Garden and Table.
Publication
 
Author
Organ. J.
Publisher
Faber
Year
1960
ISBN
-
Description
Unusual vegetables that can be grown outdoors in Britain. A good guide.
,
37
Title
The Gardener's Assistant.
Publication
 
Author
Thompson. B.
Publisher
Blackie and Son.
Year
1878
ISBN
-
Description
Excellent general but extensive guide to gardening practices in the 19th century. A very good section on fruits and vegetables with many little known species.
]. Beets grow well in a variety of soils, growing best in a deep, friable well-drained soil abundant with organic matter, but doing poorly on clay. They prefer an open position and a light well-drained soil[
52
Title
Salads all the Year Round.
Publication
 
Author
Larkcom. J.
Publisher
Hamlyn
Year
1980
ISBN
 
Description
A good and comprehensive guide to temperate salad plants, with full organic details of cultivation.
]. The optimum pH is 6.0 - 6.8, but the plant can tolerate 5 - 8.3[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Some salinity may be tolerated after the seedling stage. Beets are notable for their tolerance to manganese toxicity[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
]. Plants are tolerant of saline soils and respond positively if salt is added to non-saline soils at a rate of about 30g per square metre[
264
Title
Vegetables
Publication
 
Author
Phillips. R. & Rix. M.
Publisher
Macmillan Reference Books, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0 333 62640 0
Description
Excellent and easily read book with good information and an excellent collection of photos of vegetables from around the world, including many unusual species.
].
Spinach beet and chard are often cultivated by gardeners for their edible leaves[
16
Title
New Vegetable Growers Handbook.
Publication
 
Author
Simons.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1977
ISBN
0-14-046-050-0
Description
A good guide to growing vegetables in temperate areas, not entirely organic.
] - they do not make very good commercial crops since the leaves quickly droop after being harvested and so do not stand the journey to market.
If the leaves are harvested regularly, selecting those on the outside of the rosette, then it is possible to harvest individual plants for up to two years. The leaves can also be made available all year round by successional sowings[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].
Spinach beet is a good hot weather substitute for spinach[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
].
The leaves can be available all year round from successional sowings if the winters are not too severe[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. In severe winters it is possible to dig up some plants and move them to a protected area such as a greenhouse in order to produce fresh leaves[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
]. Plants usually self-sow freely if they are well-sited and the ground is disturbed by hoeing etc[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Edible Uses

Leaves and leaf stems - raw or cooked like spinach[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
,
16
Title
New Vegetable Growers Handbook.
Publication
 
Author
Simons.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1977
ISBN
0-14-046-050-0
Description
A good guide to growing vegetables in temperate areas, not entirely organic.
,
27
Title
The Vegetable Garden.
Publication
 
Author
Vilmorin. A.
Publisher
Ten Speed Press
Year
 
ISBN
0-89815-041-8
Description
A reprint of a nineteenth century classic, giving details of vegetable varieties. Not really that informative though.
,
33
Title
Rare Vegetables for Garden and Table.
Publication
 
Author
Organ. J.
Publisher
Faber
Year
1960
ISBN
-
Description
Unusual vegetables that can be grown outdoors in Britain. A good guide.
]. A very good spinach substitute, the leaves are large and easily harvested, yields are high[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. Some people dislike the raw leaves since they can leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Flowering stem - cooked. A broccoli substitute[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Medicinal

Although little used in modern herbalism, the plant has a long history of folk use, especially in the treatment of tumours[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
]. Beet juice was formerly recommended as a remedy for anaemia and yellow jaundice, and was put into the nostrils to purge the head, used as ear drops to clear ringing ears, and as a mouthwash to alleviate toothache[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
].

The root is carminative, emmenagogue, haemostatic, stomachic and is used as a tonic for women[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
]. The root can be used as part of the diet, or the juice can be extracted and used as a health-promoting drink[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
]. At least one litre of the juice from red-rooted forms must be taken each day in order to stimulate the immune system[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
]. The juice is prescribed by herbalists as part of a cancer-treatment regime[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
].

A decoction prepared from the seed has been used as a remedy for tumours of the intestines. The seed, boiled in water, is said to cure genital tumours[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
].

The juice or other parts of the plant is said to help in the treatment of tumours, leukaemia and other forms of cancer such as cancer of the breast, oesophagus, glands, head, intestines, leg, lip, lung, prostate, rectum, spleen, stomach, and uterus[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
].
The juice has been applied topically to treat ulcers[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
].
Beet juice in vinegar is said to rid the scalp of dandruff, and has been recommended to prevent falling hair[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
].

A decoction is used as a purgative by those who suffer from haemorrhoids in South Africa[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

A good companion for dwarf beans, onions and kohl rabi[
18
Title
Companion Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B.
Publisher
Watkins
Year
1979
ISBN
-
Description
Details of beneficial and antagonistic relationships between neighbouring plants.
]. Its growth is inhibited by runner beans, charlock and field mustard[
18
Title
Companion Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B.
Publisher
Watkins
Year
1979
ISBN
-
Description
Details of beneficial and antagonistic relationships between neighbouring plants.
].

Other Uses

None known

Propagation

Seed - sow in situ in early mid spring for the summer crop and again in early July to August for the winter and spring crop. It is also possible to obtain an earlier crop by sowing the seed in a tray in a greenhouse in early spring and planting out in mid spring[
264
Title
Vegetables
Publication
 
Author
Phillips. R. & Rix. M.
Publisher
Macmillan Reference Books, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0 333 62640 0
Description
Excellent and easily read book with good information and an excellent collection of photos of vegetables from around the world, including many unusual species.
].
Cite as: Temperate Plants Database, Ken Fern. temperate.theferns.info. 2019-09-18. <temperate.theferns.info/plant/Beta+vulgaris+%28Leaf+Beet+Group%29>

Add a Comment:

If you have any useful information about this plant, please leave a comment. Comments have to be approved before they are shown here.