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Title: Chard  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Beta vulgaris, Sarma (food), Capuns, Sugar beet, Gardening in Alaska
Collection: Amaranthaceae, Edible Plants, Leaf Vegetables
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Red chard growing at Slow Food Nation
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Amaranthaceae
Subfamily: Betoideae
Genus: Beta
Species: B. vulgaris
Subspecies: B. vulgaris subsp. vulgaris
  • B. vulgaris var. cicla L.
  • B. vulgaris subsp. cicla (L.) W.D.J. Koch (Cicla Group)
  • B. vulgaris subsp. cicla (L.) W.D.J. Koch var. cicla L.
  • B. vulgaris var. cycla (L.) Ulrich
  • B. vulgaris subsp. vulgaris (Leaf Beet Group)
  • B. vulgaris subsp. vulgaris (Spinach Beet Group)
  • B. vulgaris subsp. cicla (L.) W.D.J. Koch (Flavescens Group)
  • B. vulgaris subsp. cicla (L.) W.D.J. Koch var. flavescens (Lam.) DC.
  • B. vulgaris L. subsp. vulgaris (Leaf Beet Group)
  • B. vulgaris subsp. vulgaris (Swiss Chard Group)

Chard (Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris, Cicla-Group and Flavescens-Group) is a leafy green vegetable often used in Mediterranean cooking. In the Flavescens-Group-cultivars, the leaf stalks are large and are often prepared separately from the leaf blade.[2] The leaf blade can be green or reddish in color; the leaf stalks also vary in color, usually white, yellow, or red.[3] Chard has highly nutritious leaves making it a popular addition to healthful diets (like other green leafy vegetables).[4] Chard has been around for centuries, but because of its similarity to other beets and some other vegetables such as cardoon, the common names used by cooks over the centuries can be quite confusing.[5]


  • Classification 1
  • Etymology 2
  • Growth and harvesting 3
  • Cultivars 4
  • Culinary use 5
  • Nutritional content 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Chard was first described in 1753 by Carl von Linné as Beta vulgaris var. cicla.[6] Its taxonomic rank has changed many times, so it was treated as a subspecies, convariety or variety of Beta vulgaris.[1] The accepted name is Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris.[7][8] There are two rankless cultivar groups within this subspecies: the Cicla-Group for the leafy spinach beet, and the Flavescens-Group for the stalky Swiss chard.[1]

Chard is in the same subspecies as beetroot (garden beet) and all other beet cultivars. They are cultivated descendants of the sea beet, Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima. Chard belongs to the chenopods, which are now mostly included in the family Amaranthaceae (sensu lato).

Chard is also known by its many common names such as Swiss chard,[9] silverbeet, perpetual spinach, spinach beet, crab beet, bright lights, seakale beet, and mangold.[10] In South Africa, it is simply called spinach.[11]


The word "chard" descends from the fourteenth-century French carde, from Latin carduus meaning artichoke thistle (or cardoon, including the artichoke).[12]

The origin of the adjective "Swiss" is unclear, since the Mediterranean plant is not native to Switzerland, nor particularly commonly cultivated there. Some attribute the name to it having been first described by a Swiss botanist, either Gaspard Bauhin [13] or Karl Heinrich Emil Koch[14] (although the latter was German, not Swiss).

Growth and harvesting

Chard is a biennial. Clusters of chard seeds are usually sown, in the Northern Hemisphere, between April and August, depending on the desired harvesting period. Chard can be harvested while the leaves are young and tender, or after maturity when they are larger and have slightly tougher stems. Harvesting is a continuous process, as most species of chard produce three or more crops.[15] Raw chard is extremely perishable.


Swiss chard for sale at an outdoor market

Cultivars of chard include green forms, such as 'Lucullus' and 'Fordhook Giant', as well as red-ribbed forms such as 'Ruby Chard' and 'Rhubarb Chard'.[10] The red-ribbed forms are very attractive in the garden, but as a general rule, the older green forms tend to outproduce the colorful hybrids. 'Rainbow Chard' is a mix of other colored varieties that is often mistaken for a variety unto itself.

Chard has shiny, green, ribbed leaves, with petioles that range from white to yellow to red, depending on the cultivar.

Chard is a spring harvest plant. In the Northern Hemisphere, chard is typically ready to harvest as early as April and lasts through May. Chard is one of the hardier leafy greens, with a harvest season typically lasting longer than kale, spinach or baby greens. When daytime temperatures start to regularly hit 30 °C (86 °F), the harvest season is coming to an end.

Culinary use

Fresh young chard can be used raw in salads. Mature chard leaves and stalks are typically cooked (like in pizzoccheri) or sauteed; their bitterness fades with cooking, leaving a refined flavor which is more delicate than that of cooked spinach.

In Egyptian cuisine, chard is commonly cooked with taro root and coriander in a light broth.[16] In Turkish cuisine, chard is cooked as soup, sarma and börek[17]

Nutritional content

Swiss chard, cooked, no salt
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 84 kJ (20 kcal)
4.13 g
Sugars 1.1 g
Dietary fiber 2.1 g
0.08 g
1.88 g
Vitamin A equiv.
306 μg
3652 μg
11015 μg
Vitamin A 6124 IU
Thiamine (B1)
0.034 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.086 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.36 mg
0.163 mg
Vitamin B6
0.085 mg
Folate (B9)
9 μg
28.7 mg
Vitamin C
18 mg
Vitamin E
1.89 mg
Vitamin K
327.3 μg
58 mg
2.26 mg
86 mg
0.334 mg
33 mg
549 mg
179 mg
0.33 mg
Other constituents
Water 92.65 g

Link to USDA Database entry
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Swiss chard is high in vitamins A, K, and C, with a 175-g serving containing 214%, 716%, and 53%, respectively, of the recommended daily value.[18] It is also rich in minerals, dietary fiber, and protein.[19]

All parts of the chard plant contain oxalic acid.


  1. ^ a b c names at MMPNDBetaSorting
  2. ^ Librarie Larousse, ed. (1984). Larousse Gastronomique: The World's Greatest Cooking Encyclopedia. The Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited. 
  3. ^ "Recipes for Health: Chard". The New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Swiss Chard". World's Healthiest Foods. Retrieved January 10, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Swiss Chard". Retrieved January 10, 2015. 
  6. ^ at Tropicoscicla var. Beta vulgaris, accessed 2014-02-27
  7. ^ at Tropicosvulgaris subsp. Beta vulgaris, accessed, 2015-02-27
  8. ^ . In: Uotila, P. (2011): Chenopodiaceae (pro parte majore). – In: Euro+Med Plantbasevulgaris L. subsp. Beta vulgaris, accessed, 2014-02-27
  9. ^ Characterization and biological activity of the main flavonoids from Swiss Chard (Beta vulgaris subspecies cycla). Phytomedicine: International Journal of Phytotherapy & Phytopharmacology, 01-FEB-07
  10. ^ a b Eat with the beet, Monty Don, 9 February 2003, The Guardian
  11. ^ Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, [ Production guidelines for Swiss chard]. South Africa. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
  12. ^ Chard, Online Etymological Dictionary
  13. ^ Forget Hip Kale, Get Your Green Fix From Swiss Chard, Clifford Wright, Zester Daily.
  14. ^ Chard, Centre for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture
  15. ^ Dobbs, Liz (2012). "It's chard to beet".  
  16. ^ "Recipe for Colcasia in Egyptian Cuisine". Egyptian Cuisine Recipes. Retrieved January 10, 2015. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Nutrition Facts and Analysis for Chard". Retrieved 2013-04-15. 
  19. ^ "Worlds Healthiest Foods". Retrieved 2013-04-15. 

External links

  • Farmgirl Susan (Sep 26, 2007). "How To Grow Your Own Swiss Chard From Seed & Why You Should". Archived from the original on July 13, 2014. 
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