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For other uses, see Chard (disambiguation).
"Silverbeet" redirects here. For the album by The Bats, see Silverbeet (album).
Chard in the Victory Garden.jpg
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. cicla
(L.) W.D.J.Koch [1][2]
  • Beta vulgaris var. cicla L. (basionym)

Chard (Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla),[1] is a leafy green vegetable often used in Mediterranean cooking. In some cultivars, the leaf stalks are large and are often prepared separately from the leaf blade.[3] The leaf blade can be green or reddish in color; the leaf stalks also vary in color, usually white, yellow, or red.[4] Chard has been bred to have highly nutritious leaves and is considered to be one of the most healthful vegetables available, making it a popular addition to healthful diets (like other green leafy vegetables).[5] 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.[6]


Chard and the other beets are chenopods, a group which is either its own family Chenopodiaceae or a subfamily within the Amaranthaceae. Although the leaves of chard are eaten, it is in the same species as beetroot (garden beet), which is grown primarily for its edible roots. Both are cultivated descendants of the sea beet, Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima, but they were selected for different characteristics.

Chard is also known by its many common names such as Swiss chard,[7] silverbeet, perpetual spinach, spinach beet, crab beet, bright lights, seakale beet, and mangold.[8] In South Africa, it is simply called spinach.[9]


The word "chard" descends from the fourteenth-century French carde, from Latin carduus meaning artichoke thistle (or cardoon, including the artichoke).[10]

The origin of the adjective "Swiss" is unclear, since the Mediterranean plant is not native to Switzerland. Some attribute the name to it having been first described by a Swiss botanist, either Gaspard Bauhin [11] or Karl Heinrich Emil Koch[12] (although the later was German, not Swiss).

Growth and harvesting[edit]

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.[13] 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'.[8] 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[edit]

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.[citation needed]

In Egyptian cuisine, chard is commonly cooked with taro root and coriander in a light broth.[14]

Nutritional content[edit]

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
Trace metals
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

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.[15] It is also rich in minerals, dietary fiber, and protein.[16]

All parts of the chard plant contain oxalic acid.


  1. ^ a b c  This plant, treated as a subspecies of Beta vulgaris, was first published in Synopsis der Deutschen und Schweizer Flora 2: 720. 1846. Its basionym is B. vulgaris var. cicla L. "Name - Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla (L.) W.D.J.Koch". Tropicos. Saint Louis, Missouri: Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved August 26, 2011. Basionym: Beta vulgaris var. cicla L. 
  2. ^ a b  The basionym of B. vulgaris subsp. cicla (B. vulgaris var. cicla L.) was originally described and published in Species Plantarum 1: 222. 1753. "Name - Beta vulgaris var. cicla L.". Tropicos. Saint Louis, Missouri: Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved August 26, 2011. Annotation: as "Cicla" 
  3. ^ Librarie Larousse, ed. (1984). Larousse Gastronomique: The World's Greatest Cooking Encyclopedia. The Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited. 
  4. ^ "Recipes for Health: Chard". The New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Swiss Chard". World's Healthiest Foods. Retrieved January 10, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Swiss Chard". Retrieved January 10, 2015. 
  7. ^ Characterization and biological activity of the main flavonoids from Swiss Chard (Beta vulgaris subspecies cycla). Phytomedicine: International Journal of Phytotherapy & Phytopharmacology, 01-FEB-07
  8. ^ a b Eat with the beet, Monty Don, 9 February 2003, The Guardian
  9. ^ Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, [ Production guidelines for Swiss chard]. South Africa. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
  10. ^ Chard, Online Etymological Dictionary
  11. ^ Forget Hip Kale, Get Your Green Fix From Swiss Chard, Clifford Wright, Zester Daily.
  12. ^ Chard, Centre for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture
  13. ^ Dobbs, Liz (2012). "It's chard to beet". The Garden (Royal Horticultural Society) 137 (6): 54. 
  14. ^ "Recipe for Colcasia in Egyptian Cuisine". Egyptian Cuisine Recipes. Retrieved January 10, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Nutrition Facts and Analysis for Chard". Retrieved 2013-04-15. 
  16. ^ "Worlds Healthiest Foods". Retrieved 2013-04-15. 

External links[edit]