The sea beet,
Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima ((L.) Arcangeli.), is a
member of the family Amaranthaceae, previously of the Chenopodiaceae.
Carl Linnaeus first described
Beta vulgaris in 1753; in the second
Species Plantarum in 1762, he divided the species into wild
and cultivated varieties, giving the name Beta maritima to the wild
The sea beet is native to the coasts of Europe, northern Africa, and
The sea beet is the wild ancestor of common vegetables such as
beetroot, sugar beet, and Swiss chard. Its leaves have a pleasant
texture and taste when served raw or cooked, and because of this, it
is also known as wild spinach.
It is a perennial plant which grows up to 1.2 m, and flowers in the
summer. Its flowers are hermaphroditic, and wind-pollinated. It
requires moist, well-drained soils, and does not tolerate shade.
However, it is able to tolerate relatively high levels of sodium in
^ Lange, W., W. A. Brandenburg and T.S.M. De Bock. 1999. Taxonomy and
cultonomy of beet (
Beta vulgaris L.). Botanical Journal of the Linnean
^ Lange, W. (1996). "International Beta Genetic Resources Network"
(PDF). Bioversity International. p. 24. Retrieved 9 July 2011. In
the second edition of
Species Plantarum (1762), the species was split
up into wild and cultivated materials. The wild taxon was named Beta
maritima, and the cultivated material remained to be split up into
varieties carrying Latin names.
^ Beta Maritima: The Origin of Beets. Springer. 2012.
ISBN 978-1-4614-0841-3. The volume will be completely devoted to
the sea beet, that is, the ancestor of all the cultivated beets. The
wild plant, growing mainly on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea,
remains very important as source of useful traits for beet
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