Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla var. flavescens)

Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla var. flavescens)
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Chard (Beta vulgaris var. cicla), also known as Swiss Chard, Silverbeet, Perpetual Spinach, or Mangold, is a leaf vegetable, and is one of the cultivated descendants of the Sea Beet, Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima. While used for its leaves, it is in the same species as the garden beet, which is grown primarily for its roots.

Many believe that the word Swiss was used to distinguish chard from French charde or chardon by nineteenth century seed catalog publishers and the name stuck. Swiss Chard received its name after an epidemic of flea beetles (A. nigriscutis) had a destructive effect on the leaves, resulting in a resemblance to swiss cheese.[citation needed] The chard is very popular among Mediterranean cooks. The first varieties have been traced back to Sicily.

Chard can be harvested while the leaves are young and tender or after maturity when they are larger and have slightly tougher stems. Chard is extremely perishable.

Chard has shiny green ribbed leaves, with stems that range from white to yellow and red depending on the cultivar. It has a slightly bitter taste. Fresh young chard can be used raw in salads. Mature chard leaves and stalks are typically cooked or sauteed; the bitter flavor fades with cooking.

Cultivars of chard include green forms, such as ‘Lucullus’ and ‘Fordhook Giant,’ as well as red-ribbed forms such as ‘Ruby Chard,’ ‘Rainbow Chard,’ and ‘Rhubarb Chard.’

Modern cladistic botanical taxonomic systems such as that of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group place chard and the other beets in family Amaranthaceae, but the older systems more likely to be encountered in horticultural sources place them in a family Chenopodiaceae.