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Beta vulgaris flavescens - (Lam.)Lam.                
                 
Common Name Swiss Chard
Family Chenopodiaceae
Synonyms
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Not known in a truly wild situation.
Range A cultivated form of B. vulgaris maritima that is grown for its leaves and petioles.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun

Summary       

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Beta vulgaris flavescens is a BIENNIAL growing to 0.9 m (3ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5 and is not frost tender. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Wind.

USDA hardiness zone : Coming soon


Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline and saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Beta vulgaris flavescens Swiss Chard


http://flickr.com/photos/25397586@N00
Beta vulgaris flavescens Swiss Chard
http://flickr.com/photos/25397586@N00
   
Habitats       
 Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Leaves;  Stem.
Edible Uses:

Leaves - raw or cooked like spinach[2, 16, 27, 33]. A very good spinach substitute, the leaves are large and easily harvested, yields are high[K]. Some people dislike the raw leaves since they can leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth[K]. Leaf stems - cooked. The steamed stems retain their crispness and have a delicious flavour, they are considered to be a gourmet vegetable[K]. Flowering stem - cooked. A broccoli substitute[16].
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antitumor;  Emmenagogue.

Although little used in modern herbalism, beet has a long history of folk use, especially in the treatment of tumours[269]. 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]. 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]. Some figure that betacyanin and anthocyanin are important in the exchange of substances of cancer cells; others note two main components of the amines, choline and its oxidation product betaine, whose absence produces tumours in mice[269]. The juice has been applied to ulcers[269]. A decoction is used as a purgative by those who suffer from haemorrhoids in South Africa[269]. Leaves and roots used as an emmenagogue[269]. Plant effective in the treatment of feline ascariasis[269]. In the old days, beet juice was recommended as a remedy for anaemia and yellow jaundice, and, put into the nostrils to purge the head, clear ringing ears, and alleviate toothache[269]. Beet juice in vinegar was said to rid the scalp of dandruff as scurf, and was recommended to prevent falling hair[269]. Juice of the white beet was said to clear obstructions of the liver and spleen[269]. Culpepper (1653) recommended it for treating headache and vertigo as well as all affections of the brain[269].
Other Uses
None known
Cultivation details                                         
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, 37]. 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]. The optimum pH is 6.0 - 6.8, but neutral and alkaline soils are tolerated in some areas. Some salinity may be tolerated after the seedling stage. Beets are notable for their tolerance to manganese toxicity[269]. Beet is reported to tolerate an annual precipitation of 23 to 315cm, an average annual temperature range of 5.0 to 26.6°C and a pH of 4.2 to 8.2[269]. 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]. Plants frequently self-sow if they are happy, sometimes too freely[K]. Swiss chard is sometimes cultivated by gardeners for its edible leaves and stems[16], it does not make a very good commercial crop since the leaves quickly droop after being harvested and therefore do not make the trip to market. The leaves are a good hot weather substitute for spinach[183] and can be available all year round if the winters are not too severe[K]. 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]. A good companion for dwarf beans, onions and kohl rabi[18]. Its growth is inhibited by runner beans, charlock and field mustard[18].
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Seed - sow in situ in early April 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 March and planting out in April/May[264].
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
(Lam.)Lam.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[2]Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
[16]Simons. New Vegetable Growers Handbook.
A good guide to growing vegetables in temperate areas, not entirely organic.
[18]Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B. Companion Plants.
Details of beneficial and antagonistic relationships between neighbouring plants.
[27]Vilmorin. A. The Vegetable Garden.
A reprint of a nineteenth century classic, giving details of vegetable varieties. Not really that informative though.
[33]Organ. J. Rare Vegetables for Garden and Table.
Unusual vegetables that can be grown outdoors in Britain. A good guide.
[37]Thompson. B. The Gardener's Assistant.
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.
[52]Larkcom. J. Salads all the Year Round.
A good and comprehensive guide to temperate salad plants, with full organic details of cultivation.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
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.
[264]Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Vegetables
Excellent and easily read book with good information and an excellent collection of photos of vegetables from around the world, including many unusual species.
[269]Duke. J. Handbook of Energy Crops
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of plants.

Readers comment                                         
 
Paulo B.
Jun 27 2011 12:00AM
Another of my favorite vegetables to grow. Very easy to grow, and edible leaves. I like to cook them in pastry fillings. They grow also very good indoors, they don't bolt. They love a nitrogen rich soil, as they will grow big leaves. A bit frost sensitive but recovers well from it. Also self-sows freely in warm climates.
Paulo B.
Jun 27 2011 12:00AM
The leaves are much better cooked, but they reduce dramatically in size. When raw they don't taste good, the flavor is a bit like sorrel, I guess it is from the oxalic acid.
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Subject : Beta vulgaris flavescens  
             

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