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Useful Temperate Plants

Spinacia oleracea

L.

Amaranthaceae


The Temperate Database is in the process of being updated, with new records being added and old ones being checked and brought up to date where necessary. This record has not yet been checked and updated.

+ Synonyms

Common Name: Spinach

No Image.

General Information

Spinacia oleracea is an annual plant that can grow up to 0.30 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.

Known Hazards

The leaves of most varieties of spinach are high in oxalic acid[
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.
]. Although not toxic, this substance does lock up certain minerals in a meal, especially calcium, making them unavailable to the body. Therefore mineral deficiencies can result from eating too much of any leaf that contains oxalic acid. However, the mineral content of spinach leaves is quite high so the disbenifits are to a large extent outweighed by the benefits. There are also special low-oxalic varieties of spinach that have been developed. Cooking the leaves will also reduce the content of oxalic acid. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
].

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

The origin of this plant is uncertain, it probably arose in S.W. Asia.

Habitat

Not known in the wild.

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
HabitAnnual
Height0.30 m
Growth RateFast
PollinatorsWind
Self-fertileNo
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details

Plants grow best and produce their heaviest crop of leaves on a nitrogen-rich soil[
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.
,
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.
,
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.
]. They dislike very heavy or very light soils[
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.
]. They also dislike acid soils, preferring a neutral to slightly alkaline soil[
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.
]. Plants require plenty of moisture in the growing season, dry summers causing the plants to quickly run to seed[
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.
]. Summer crops do best in light shade to encourage more leaf production before the plant goes to seed[
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.
], winter crops require a warm dry sunny position[
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]).
,
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.
].
Young plants are hardy to about -9°c[
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.
].
Spinach is often cultivated for its edible leaves, there are some named varieties[
132
Title
Fruits of the Earth.
Publication
 
Author
Bianchini. F., Corbetta. F. and Pistoia. M.
Publisher
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
Description
Lovely pictures, a very readable book.
,
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.
]. These varieties can be grouped into two main types as detailed below:-
Forms with prickly seeds. These are the more primitive forms. Their leaves are more lobed and they are in general more cold tolerant and also more resistant of summer heat[
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.
]. They were more often used to produce a crop in the winter[
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.
,
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.
].
Forms with round seeds have been developed in cultivation, These have broader leaves, tend to be less cold hardy and were also more prone to bolt in hot weather[
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.
]. They were used mainly for the summer crop[
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.
]. Most new cultivars are of the round seeded variety and these have been developed to be more resistant to bolting in hot weather, more cold tolerant, to produce more leaves and also to be lower in calcium oxalate which causes bitterness and also has negative nutritional effects upon the body[
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.
].
Some modern varieties have been developed that are low in oxalic acid. Edible leaves can be obtained all year round from successional sowings[
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.
]. The summer varieties tend to run to seed fairly quickly, especially in hot dry summers and so you need to make successional sowings every few weeks if a constant supply is required. Winter varieties provide leaves for a longer period, though they soon run to seed when the weather warms up.
Spinach grows well with strawberries[
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.
,
20
Title
Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.
Publication
 
Author
Riotte. L.
Publisher
Garden Way, Vermont, USA.
Year
1978
ISBN
0-88266-064-0
Description
Fairly good.
]. It also grows well with cabbages, onions, peas and celery[
201
Title
A - Z of Companion Planting.
Publication
 
Author
Allardice.P.
Publisher
Cassell Publishers Ltd.
Year
1993
ISBN
0-304-34324-2
Description
A well produced and very readable book.
]. A fast-growing plant, the summer crop can be interplanted between rows of slower growing plants such as Brussels sprouts. The spinach would have been harvested before the other crop needs the extra space[
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.
]. Spinach is a bad companion for grapes and hyssop[
201
Title
A - Z of Companion Planting.
Publication
 
Author
Allardice.P.
Publisher
Cassell Publishers Ltd.
Year
1993
ISBN
0-304-34324-2
Description
A well produced and very readable book.
].

Edible Uses

Leaves - raw or cooked[
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]).
,
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.
,
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.
,
132
Title
Fruits of the Earth.
Publication
 
Author
Bianchini. F., Corbetta. F. and Pistoia. M.
Publisher
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
Description
Lovely pictures, a very readable book.
]. Tender young leaves can be added to salads, older leaves are used as greens or added to soups etc[
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.
,
201
Title
A - Z of Companion Planting.
Publication
 
Author
Allardice.P.
Publisher
Cassell Publishers Ltd.
Year
1993
ISBN
0-304-34324-2
Description
A well produced and very readable book.
]. The leaves contain oxalic acid (6 - 8% in young leaves, 23 - 27% in the cotyledons)[
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.
], see the notes above on toxicity. A nutritional analysis of the leaves is available[
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.
].
Seeds - raw or cooked. It can be sprouted and added to salads[
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.
].
Chlorophyll extracted from the leaves is used as an edible green dye[
142
Title
Plants Consumed by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Brouk. B.
Publisher
Academic Press
Year
1975
ISBN
0-12-136450-x
Description
Readable but not very comprehensive.
].

Medicinal

The plant is carminative and laxative[
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.
]. In experiments it has been shown to have hypoglycaemic properties[
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.
]. It has been used in the treatment of urinary calculi[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
].
The leaves have been used in the treatment of febrile conditions, inflammation of the lungs and the bowels[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
].
The seeds are laxative and cooling[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
]. They have been used in the treatment of difficult breathing, inflammation of the liver and jaundice[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
].

Other Uses

A yellow dye is obtained from the leaves[
100
Title
Flowers of Europe - A Field Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Polunin. O.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1969
ISBN
0192176218
Description
An excellent and well illustrated pocket guide for those with very large pockets. Also gives some details on plant uses.
].

Propagation

Seed - sow in situ from early spring to early summer for a summer crop. Make successional sowings, perhaps once a month, to ensure a continuity of supply. The seed germinates within about 2 weeks and the first leaves can be harvested about 6 weeks later. Seed is sown in situ during August and September for a winter crop.
Cite as: Temperate Plants Database, Ken Fern. temperate.theferns.info. 2020-08-08. <temperate.theferns.info/plant/Spinacia+oleracea>

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