Beta alba DC.
Beta altissima Steud.
Beta atriplicifolia Rouy
Beta bengalensis Roxb.
Beta brasiliensis Voss
Beta carnulosa Gren.
Beta cicla (L.) L.
Beta cicla (L.) Pers.
Beta crispa Tratt.
Beta decumbens Moench
Beta esculenta Salisb.
Beta foliosa Ehrenb. ex Steud.
Beta hortensis Mill.
Beta hybrida Andrz.
Beta incarnata Steud.
Beta lutea Steud.
Beta marina Crantz
Beta maritima L.
Beta noeana Bunge ex Boiss.
Beta orientalis Roth
Beta orientalis L.
Beta purpurea Steud.
Beta rapa Dumort.
Beta rapacea Hegetschw.
Beta rosea Steud.
Beta sativa Bernh.
Beta stricta K.Koch
Beta sulcata Gasp.
Beta triflora Salisb.
Common Name: Beet
Photograph by: Downtowngal
Creative Commons Zero, Public Domain Dedication
Photograph by: Medved'
Ruby Chard - grown for its leaves and stems
Photograph by: Joe Mabel
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
Chard - grown for its leaves and stems
Photograph by: Frank Vincentz
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
Spinach beet - grown for its leaves
Photograph by: Javier martin
Yellow, white and pink/white striped beetroot (visible when sliced).
Photograph by: Beet man
Beta vulgaris is an erect, biennial plant producing a rosette of leaves from a swollen rootstock. It grows around 60cm tall, with a flowering stem that can be 150cm or more tall.
A cultivated crop that is widely grown, especially in the temperate zone, this species provides the well-known root vegetable 'Beetroot', plus the edible leaves of 'Spinach Beet' and 'Ruby Chard'. The plants are sometimes cultivated in tropical areas and some selected forms with colourful leaves are grown as ornamentals[
A cultivated form of Beta vulgaris maritima that is grown for its edible leaves and roots.
Not known in a truly wild situation.
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Ornamental
Beta vulgaris is originally a native of the warm temperate zone, though it has spread further north to the cold temperate zone. In the tropics it needs to be grown at higher elevations if a commercial crop is to be obtained - the leaf beets need to be above 500 metres, whilst the root beets need to be above 1,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 15 - 25°c, but can tolerate 4 - 35°c[
]. When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about -6°c, but young growth can be severely damaged at 0°c[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 600 - 1,500mm, but tolerates 500 - 2,500mm[
].The plant is reported to tolerate an annual precipitation of 230 - 3150mm, an average annual temperature range of 5.0 to 26.6°C
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[
]. 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[
]. The optimum pH is 6.0 - 6.8, but the plant can tolerate 5 - 8.3. Some salinity may be tolerated after the seedling stage. Beets are notable for their tolerance to manganese toxicity[
]. 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[
As currently recognized (2016), this species includes four different cultivated groups, two of which are grown in the tropics:-
Garden Beet Group. Probably better known as the beetroot, it is grown mainly for its edible root, though the leaves can also be eaten. There are two basic forms, those with rounded roots and those with elongated roots with many named varieties of each form. The roots can be available all year round from successional sowings. A fast-growing plant, some cultivars can produce a root ready for harvesting within 7 weeks from sowing the seed[
]. Very much a plant of the temperate zone, though it is also grown commercially at elevations above 1,000 metres in the tropics.
Leaf Beet Group. This includes spinach beet with its edible leaves that atr used like spinach. It also includes the various forms of chard which, in addition to their edible leaves, also have enlarged leaf stalks that can be eaten. Neither form produce an edible root.
Spinach beet and chard 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 them for up to two years. The leaves can also be made available all year round by successional sowings[
With good cultivation techniques beetroot in the tropics may yield 15 - 25 tonnes of roots per hectare. Leaf beet may yield up to 100 tonnes per hectare[
Plants need a definite cold season if they are to flower and produce seed, therefore plants grown in the tropics generally do not produce seed.
Most beetroot seed is actually a cluster of several seeds, though monogerm varieties have been produced that only have one seed - these monogerm varieties are less likely to require thinning once they have germinated[
A good companion for dwarf beans, onions and kohl rabi[
], though the growth of spinach beet is inhibited by runner beans, charlock and field mustard[
Leaves - raw or cooked like spinach[
]. A very good spinach substitute, the leaves are large and easily harvested, yields are high[
]. Some people dislike eating the raw leaves since they can leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth[
Leaf stems - cooked. The larger stems of some varieties (the chards) retain their crispness well, especially if steamed. They have a delicious flavour, and are considered to be a gourmet vegetable[
Root - raw or cooked[
]. Well-grown roots are sweet and tender, especially when young, and can be grated and used in salads. Beetroots are traditionally boiled until tender then pickled in vinegar and used in salads. The roots can also be cooked and used as a vegetable, they are sweet and delicious when baked[
]. The root contains up to 8% sugar[
]. The root is tasteless when grown on very wet soils and dry when grown on clay soils[
]. Immature roots can be harvested for immediate use, these are usually much more tender than the older roots[
]. Mature roots will store for up to 6 months in a cool, frost-free place[
Flowering stem - cooked. A broccoli substitute[
Betanins, obtained from the red roots of beetroot, are used industrially as red food colourants, e.g. to improve the colour of tomato paste, sauces, desserts, jams and jellies, ice cream, sweets and breakfast cereals[
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 in situ.