categoryZCrops Crops List 

CHARD

Beta vulgaris ssp. vulgaris var. cicla

Goosefoot Family [Amaranthaceae]

month8may month8jun month8june month8jul month8july

category
category8Crops
status
statusZneophyte
flower
flower8green
inner
inner8cream
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ5
type
typeZspiked
stem
stem8round
stem
stem8ribbed

VARIETIES of CHARD

There are numerous varieties of Chard belonging to two Groups, the Cicla-Group and the Flavescens-Group. The two shown here, Ruby Chard and Swiss Chard, both belong to the Cicla-Group. Amongst the many cultivars are Swiss Chard, Luculus Chard (which has white stems) and Fordhook Giant Chard possess no red. Ruby Chard, Burgundy Chard and Rhubarb Chard have bright red stems with deep ribs. There are many others.


RUBY CHARD

24th May 2016, arable fields, Ormskirk, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
There were 2 to 3 varieties of Chard growing in the same large arable field. This variety caught my eye first with its bright-red stems.


24th May 2016, arable fields, Ormskirk, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Leaves green and alternate up the stem. Stem sinuous.


24th May 2016, arable fields, Ormskirk, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Stem thick at the bottom and with deep ribs.


24th May 2016, arable fields, Ormskirk, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The sinuous ribs of the stem and its bright-red colour also make this an attractive garden plant; one which can also be eaten. Leaves crinkly.


24th May 2016, arable fields, Ormskirk, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Some stems have 'arm-pits' where a branch takes off from the main stem.


24th May 2016, arable fields, Ormskirk, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
lower stem. Leaves have red veins.


24th May 2016, arable fields, Ormskirk, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Leaves with prominent red mid-rib and narrower red veins branching out to the leaf edges. Both leaves and stem are edible, or so your Author thinks.


24th May 2016, arable fields, Ormskirk, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
A lower leaf with striking red veins.


24th May 2016, arable fields, Ormskirk, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Some specimens are about 1.5m tall and are flowering at the top.


24th May 2016, arable fields, Ormskirk, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The flowers/fruits.



SWISS CHARD

24th May 2016, arable fields, Ormskirk, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
There may possibly be 2 species of Swiss Chard here, those on the right being much taller and flowering, whilst those on the left much shorter, leafier and not flowering.


24th May 2016, arable fields, Ormskirk, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The left-most ones. The stems are short but still deeply ribbed. Perhaps these are being grown mainly for their leaves?


24th May 2016, arable fields, Ormskirk, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Left-most ones. The stems are pale-green to white without any hint of red, so too the wide mid-rib of the leaves.


24th May 2016, arable fields, Ormskirk, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Whereas the right-most rows are much taller with many branches, and flowering at the summit.


24th May 2016, arable fields, Ormskirk, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
It is possible that these have been abandoned in the field; your Author thought that flowering was did not enhance the edible product, but rather sapped energy.


24th May 2016, arable fields, Ormskirk, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The flowers/fruits.


Not to be semantically confused with : charred [a different word meaning 'burnt' but with an identical pronunciation - a homonym]. Kitchen parlance: The char lady charred the chard!

Some similarities to : Sea Beet (Beta vulgaris ssp. maritima) to which the cultivated leafy vegetables are all related.

There are many slightly differing Chards cultivated for various aesthetic, taste, growability or reliability reasons. Rhubarb Chard also has ribbed red stems. The so-called 'Rainbow Chard' is simply a bunched mixture of different-coloured chards sold in bundles to catch the shoppers eye, it is not a separate cultivar.

All these Chards are derived from Beet (Beta vulgaris ssp. vulgaris), such as Beetroot, Sugar Beet, Mangel-wurzel, Spinach Beet, but they are all segregated into 5 Cultivar-Groups of Beta vulgaris ssp. vulgaris, namely:

  • Altissima-Group - to which Sugar Beet belongs.
  • Cicla-Group to which Spinach Beet aka Chard belong (including Ruby Chard and other Chards with thickened mid-ribs sometimes grown in gardens for ornament)
  • Flavescens-Group to which Swiss Chard belongs. Those Swiss Chards with thickened stems are thought to have arisen from mutations in Spinach Beet - which is in the Cicla-Group.
  • Conditiva-Group to which Beetroot belongs
  • Crassa-Group to which Mangel-wurzel belongs.

Chard is harvested in the Spring but most of these specimens have flowered, possibly too early because of the very mild and sunny month of May in 2016, which according to averages published by the met office, was warmer than June, July or August of the same year! Young fresh can be eaten raw as a salad but mature leaves are cooked, which reduces their bitterness. Your Author has never had chard, and wonders if he is missing anything?


  Beta vulgaris ssp. vulgaris  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Amaranthaceae  

Distribution
 family8Cabbage family8Brassicaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Brassica
Brassica
(Cabbages)

CHARD

Beta vulgaris ssp. vulgaris var. cicla

Goosefoot Family [Amaranthaceae]