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Beta vulgaris (beet)

Beetroot, Swiss chard, sugar beet and mangel-wurzel are all cultivars of the same species, Beta vulgaris.
Beta vulgaris (beet) beetroots

Beetroot (Beta vulgaris) (Photo: Quadell licensed under CC by 3.0)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Beta vulgaris L.

Common name: 

beet, beetroot, wild sea-beet, Swiss chard, rhubarb chard, spinach beet, silver beet, sugar beet, mangel-wurzel, mangold

Conservation status: 

Widespread in cultivation.

Habitat: 

Coastal.

Key Uses: 

Food and drink, livestock-feed, traditional medicine.

Known hazards: 

None known.

Taxonomy

Subclass: 
Superorder: 
Caryophyllanae
Order: 
Caryophyllales
Family: 
Amaranthaceae
Genus: Beta

About this species

Evidence suggests that Beta vulgaris has been cultivated since the 1st century AD, over which time a diverse range of forms have been developed. These include sugar beet, which is a major agricultural crop, providing about 30% of the world’s sugar. Fodder beet cultivars are also an important source of cattle-feed.

Beta vulgaris is a member of the amaranth and goosefoot family (Amaranthaceae), which also includes spinach (Spinacia oleracea) and quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa). The generic name Beta derives from the Celtic bett meaning red. 

Medicinal Uses

Beetroot was used medicinally in Ancient Rome and is used in the herbal treatment of cancer today. It contains high concentrations of red betalains (anti-oxidants), vitamin C, tyrosine, iron and folic acid. Some individuals are unable to metabolize red betanin, leading to the production of red urine (known as beeturia).

Synonym: 

Beta alba DC., Beta altissima Steud., Beta atriplicifolia Rouy (full list available on The Plant List)

Genus: 
Beta

main info

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