Beta vulgaris maritima
Beta atriplicifolia Rouy
Beta bengalensis Roxb.
Beta maritima L.
Beta orientalis L.
Common Name: Sea Beet
Beta vulgaris maritima is an annual to biennial or perennial plant, of very varied habit, growing 30 - 120cm tall from a stout rootstock[
The plant is often harvested from the wild for local use as a food and sometimes also as a medicine. This plant is the wild ancestor of various cultivated forms including the beetroot, chards and sugar beet.
Coastal areas of Eurasia from Sweden south to Spain, east to Turkey, the Levant and Azerbaijan; Macaronesia; N. Africa - Morocco to Egypt
Banks and shingle by the coast[
Grows best in an open position and a light well-drained soil[
]. Usually found in saline soils.
Young leaves - raw or cooked[
]. A delicious spinach substitute in the spring, the leaves become less pleasant as the season progresses, developing a distinct bitterness in hot weather[
]. Some people dislike the raw leaves since they can leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth[
Although little used in modern herbalism, the plant has a long history of folk use, especially in the treatment of tumours[
]. 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[
The root is carminative, emmenagogue, haemostatic, stomachic and is used as a tonic for women[
]. The root can be used as part of the diet, or the juice can be extracted and used as a health-promoting drink[
]. At least one litre of the juice from red-rooted forms must be taken each day in order to stimulate the immune system[
]. The juice is prescribed by herbalists as part of a cancer-treatment regime[
The root of white-rooted forms contain betaine which has been shown to promote the regeneration of liver cells and the metabolism of fat cells[
The root of red-rooted forms contains betanin - an anthocyanin similar to those found in red wine. It has been shown to be partly responsible for red beet's immune-enhancing effect[
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[
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[
The juice has been applied topically to treat ulcers[
Beet juice in vinegar is said to rid the scalp of dandruff, and has been recommended to prevent falling hair[
A decoction is used as a purgative by those who suffer from haemorrhoids in South Africa[
Seed - sow early to late spring in situ.