Beet - Beta vulgaris


    Beta vulgaris has several sub species all related to the wild Sea Beet (Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima). In cultivation it has been developed into three distinct varieties specialised for different edible parts of the plant: Swiss Chard (var. cicla), which has large leaves and prominent fleshy stems is used as a leafy vegetable; Sugar Beet (var. vulgaris), which has a very large, irregularly shaped fleshy root (up to 1 foot long and weighing 3 to 5 pounds) that lacks the red colour typically associated with beets, and is used as a source of sugar and as animal fodder; and Beet or Beetroot (previously classified var. esculenta, although now usually placed in the same group with var. vulgaris), which has a red to purple fleshy spherical or elongated root and is used as a root vegetable. All three varieties were derived from the wild Sea Beet (often classified as B. vulgaris var. maritima). Careful examination is needed to identify to sub-species level.

    Identification difficulty

    Sea Beet (Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima) is mainly coastal whilst the other sub-species are usually found as  casuals on waste ground, rubbish tips etc.

    When to see it

    In flower during July, August and September.

    Life History

    May be annual, biennial or perennial.

    UK Status

    Widespread in Britain with Sea Beet (Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima) being mainly coastal.

    VC55 Status

    Infrequent in Leicestershire and Rutland. It was not recorded in the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire.

    Leicestershire & Rutland Map

    MAP KEY:

    Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
    Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

    UK Map