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Beta vulgaris L.

Beta vulgaris L.




Beta vulgaris L. convar. crassa (Alef.) Helm provar. conditiva (Alef.) Helm, Beta vulgaris L. ssp. vulgaris convar. vulgaris var. vulgaris sensu Mansfeld, Beta vulgaris L. ssp. vulgaris sensu Ford-Lloyd.

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Bit.
English Garden beet, beetroot.
Indonesia Bit.
Philippines Remolatsa (Bisaya).
Thailand Phakkat-daeng(Central), phakkat-farang (Bangkok).
Vietnam C[ar]i d[uw][owf]ng, c[ur] d[eef]n.
French Betterave potagère.

Geographical Distributions

Wild forms of Beta vulgaris occur along the shores of the Mediterranean, extending eastwards as far as Indonesia and westwards along the coasts of the Atlantic up to southern Norway. B. vulgaris was taken into cultivation in the eastern Mediterranean or the Middle East and first mentioned in the literature in Mesopotamia in the 9th Century BC. It followed by the early trade routes to East Asia, reaching India in classical times and China in 850 AD. Originally, B. vulgaris was grown mainly for their leaves. The first recorded recipes for the root date from the 3rd Century AD. Towards the end of the middle ages the garden beet, with its thick cylindrical or globular root, had become an important vegetable in central Europe. Very little is known of the development and early distribution of Swiss chard. Presently, B. vulgaris is grown for their roots, petioles and leaves throughout the world. B. vulgaris is the most important form for worldwide.


B. vulgaris is highly variable, robust, erect and usually biennial herb. The main root is long, stout, tapered, side-roots which form a dense and with an extensive root system in the top 25 cm of the soil. The hypocotyl and the upper part of the main root are conspicuously swollen, being globular, flattened and cylindrical or tapering. The adventitious roots are occurring in two opposite rows on the lower part. The swollen root consists of the alternating layers of strongly coloured conductive tissue and light coloured storage tissue.

In vegetative plants, the leaves grow in a basal rosette and have long petioles. The leaves are arranged alternately, often ovate and cordate, measure 20-40 cm long, wavy margins except in spinach beet, leaf tissue puckered between nerves, nearly hairless, green, dark green or red and often shiny. The leaves in the inflorescence pass into the linear bracts.

The inflorescence is with a long, paniculate, more or less open spike and measures 50-150 cm long. The flowers are greenish, sessile, bisexual, usually 2-3(-5) together and subtended by minute bracts. The perianth is with 5-partite and becomes thicker at the base as fruits ripen. There are 5 stamens. The ovary is 1-celled and surrounded by a disk. The short pistil is with 2-3 stigmas.

The fruit is 1-seeded, enclosed within the swollen corky perianth-bases and measuring 3-7 mm in diametre where 1-6 fruits adhered in groups called glomerules or seedballs. The brown kidney-shaped seed is 1.5-3 mm in diametre and measures 1.5 mm thick.

Ecology / Cultivation

Temperatures over 25°C adversely affect the growth and colour development of B. vulgaris. An elevation of 600-1000 m altitudes in the tropics is the minimum for profitable production. B. vulgaris tolerates higher temperatures. It requires a fertile and moist soil for a good growth. It prefers a neutral to slightly alkaline pH. As it originates from sea-shores, it is tolerant to limited concentrations of salt.

Line Drawing / Photograph



  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 8: Vegetables.

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