Species vulgaris maritima
Common Name sea beet
The sea beet, Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima is a member of the family Amaranthaceae, previously of the Chenopodiaceae. Here in Sweden the range is restricted to the South and West coasts.
The sea beet is the wild ancestor of common vegetables such as beetroot, sugar beet, and Swiss chard. It grows up to 1.2 m, and flowers in the summer. Its flowers are hermaphroditic, and wind-pollinated. It requires moist, well-drained soils, and does not tolerate shade. However, it is able to tolerate relatively high levels of sodium in its environment.
Young leaves are eaten raw or cooked. A delicious spinach substitute in the spring, the leaves become less pleasant as the season progresses, developing a distinct bitterness in hot weather. Some people dislike the raw leaves since they can leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth.