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Published In: Species Plantarum 1: 222. 1753. (1 May 1753) (Sp. Pl.) Name publication detailView in BotanicusView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 9/17/2015)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project data     (Last Modified On 9/17/2015)

1. Beta vulgaris L., Sp. Pl. 222 (1753); Boiss., Fl. Orient. 4: 898 (1879) ; Zohary, Fl. Palaestina 1: 139 (1966). Type: Herb. van Royen (L -889.213-556). [Plate 196] 

Common name:

 White Beet; סלק מצוי.


Altogether, a very polymorphic weedy species. The roots of the wild plants are not edible. The various cultivated forms (for sugar, consumption or forage) have been selected and bred from varieties of this species, mainly in Southern Europe.

The leaves are sometimes cooked and they were used as tobacco substitute.

Three fruits were found at Paleolithic Gesher Benot Ya'aqov, Hula Valley, 790,000 years old [Alperson-Afil & al. 2007]. Also reported from Aphek, near the Yarqon River springs, by 3 fruits from Late Bronze Age and 2 fruits from Iron Age levels [Kislev & Mahler-Slasky 2009].


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Annual to perennial, glabrous or sometimes pubescent, 20-100 cm.. Stems decumbent to erect, branched and leafy, rather stout, furrowed, sometimes coloured. Leaves mostly up to 12 x 6 cm., petiolate, dark green to reddish; radical leaves frequently rosulate, ovate, cuneate to somewhat cordate, obtuse; cauline leaves rhombic-oblong to lanceolate-linear. Flowering clusters (1-) 2-4-flowered, arranged in long, slender, more or less interrupted spikes. Bracts longer or shorter than clusters, linear-lanceolate, abortive towards inflorescence apex. Perianth lobes 2-5 mm, as long as or longer than diameter of fruit, often incurved, more or less keeled, especially in fruit. Fl. March-June.

Subsp. maritima (L.) Arcang., Comp. Fl. It. 593 (1882); Thell., Mem. Soc. Sci. Nat. Cherbourg 38: 189 (1912). B. vulgaris L. var. maritima (L.) Moq. in DC., Prodr. 13(2): 56 (1849); Boiss., Fl. Orient. 4: 899 (1879). Perennial, rarely annual, glabrous or loosely pilose, branching from base. Perianth lobes about 2 mm, not or only rarely incurved, cartilaginous at base, short-triangular at apex, slightly keeled or without keel. Clusters 1-2 (-3)-flowered, in rather dense spikes, leafy to top or leafless at apex.

Hab.: Herbaceous vegetation; fallow and abandoned fields and roadsides. In semi-steppe areas dominant on clay soils and at the vicinity of harvesing ants nests. Coastal Galilee, Acco Plain, Carmel Coast, Sharon Plain, Philistean Plain, Upper and Lower Galilee, Mt. Carmel, Esdraelon Plain, Samaria, Shefela, Judean Mts., Samarian and Judean Deserts, Negev, Hula Plain, Upper and Lower Jordan Valleys, Dead Sea Valley, [Mt. Hermon], Golan, Gilead, Moav.

In this subspecies, which includes, according to Aellen (1938) and some other authors, also ssp. foliosa auct., the following 3 varieties have been distinguished: Var. maritima. B. maritima L., Sp. Pl. ed. 2, 322 (1762). B. vulgaris L. var. glabra (Delile) Aellen, Ber. Schweiz. Bot. Ges. 48: 476 (1938). Bracts diminishing towards apex of inflorescences. Glabrous plants. Common. Var. pilosa (Delile ex Moq.) Aellen, 1.c. 474. Lower leaves and stem base loosely hairy. Not common in our area. Var. orientalis Moq. in DC., Prodr. 13, 2: 56 (1849). B. vulgaris L. var. foliosa Aellen, l.c. 474. Glabrous plant, with conspicuous bracts all along the inflorescence, mostly overtopping clusters. Not rare in our area.

Subsp. macrocarpa (Guss.) Thell., l.c. 190; Aellen, l.c. 478. Annual, glabrous, somewhat fleshy. Perianth lobes up to 5 mm, longer than fruit diam., more or less subulate, keeled, hooded, cartilaginous at base. Clusters large, 3-4-flowered, forming rather interrupted spikes.

Hab.: As previous subspecies. Sharon Plain, Mt. Carmel, Judean Desert, N. Negev, Upper and Lower Jordan Valley. Area of species: Mediterranean and Irano-Turanian.

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