Chard or Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris, Cicla-Group and Flavescens-Group) (/ɑːrd/) is a green leafy vegetable that can be used in Mediterranean cooking. In the cultivars of the Flavescens-Group, the leaf stalks are large and often prepared separately from the leaf blade.[1] The leaf blade can be green or reddish in color; the leaf stalks are usually white, yellow, or red.[2]

Chard, like other green leafy vegetables, has highly nutritious leaves, making it a popular component of healthy diets.[3] Chard has been used in cooking for centuries, but because of its similarity to beets and vegetables like cardoon, the common names that cooks and cultures have used for chard may be confusing.[4]


Chard was first described in 1753 by Carl von Linné as Beta vulgaris var. cicla.[5] Its taxonomic rank has changed many times, so it was treated as a subspecies, convariety or variety of Beta vulgaris. (Some of the numerous synonyms are Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla (L.) W.D.J. Koch (Cicla Group), B. vulgaris subsp. cicla (L.) W.D.J. Koch var. cicla L., B. vulgaris var. cycla (L.) Ulrich, B. vulgaris subsp. vulgaris (Leaf Beet Group), B. vulgaris subsp. vulgaris (Spinach Beet Group), B. vulgaris subsp. cicla (L.) W.D.J. Koch (Flavescens Group), B. vulgaris subsp. cicla (L.) W.D.J. Koch var. flavescens (Lam.) DC., B. vulgaris L. subsp. vulgaris (Leaf Beet Group), B. vulgaris subsp. vulgaris (Swiss Chard Group)).[6] The accepted name for all beet cultivars, like chard, sugar beet and beetroot, is Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris.[7][8] They are cultivated descendants of the sea beet, Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima. Chard belongs to the chenopods, which are now mostly included in the family Amaranthaceae (sensu lato).

There are two rankless cultivar groups for chard: the Cicla-Group for the leafy spinach beet, and the Flavescens-Group for the stalky Swiss chard.[6]

Chard is also known by many common names, such as Swiss chard, silver beet, perpetual spinach, beet spinach, seakale beet, or leaf beet.[9][10]


The word "chard" descends from the fourteenth-century French carde, from Latin carduus meaning artichoke thistle (or cardoon, including the artichoke).[11]

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 [12] or Karl Heinrich Emil Koch[13] (although the latter was German, not Swiss).

Swiss chard for sale at an outdoor market

Growth and harvesting

Chard is a biennial. Clusters of chard seeds are usually sown, in the Northern Hemisphere, between June and October, 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.[14] Raw chard is extremely perishable.

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
Pantothenic acid (B5)
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
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.


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'.[2] The red-ribbed forms are 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.[2]

Chard has shiny, green, ribbed leaves, with petioles that range from white to yellow to red, depending on the cultivar.[2]

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

Fresh young chard can be used raw in salads. Mature chard leaves and stalks are typically cooked (like in pizzoccheri) or sautéed; the 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.[15] In Turkish cuisine, chard is cooked as soup, sarma or börek.

Nutritional content

In a 100-gram serving, raw Swiss chard provides 79 kilojoules (19 kcal) of food energy and has rich content (> 19% of the Daily Value, DV) of vitamins A, K, and C, with 122%, 1038%, and 50%, respectively, of the DV.[3] Also having significant content in raw chard are vitamin E and the dietary minerals, magnesium, manganese, iron and potassium.[3] Carbohydrates, protein, fat and dietary fiber have low content.[3]

When chard is cooked by boiling, vitamin and mineral contents are reduced compared to raw chard, but still supply significant proportions of the DV (table).


  1. ^ Librarie Larousse, ed. (1984). Larousse Gastronomique: The World's Greatest Cooking Encyclopedia. The Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Swiss chard varieties". Cornell Garden Based Learning. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University. 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Nutrition Facts and Analysis for Chard per 100 grams, USDA National Nutrient Database, version SR-21". Conde Nast. 2014. Retrieved 2013-04-15. 
  4. ^ "Swiss chard". Growing Guide. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University. 2006. 
  5. ^ Beta vulgaris var. cicla at Tropicos, accessed 2014-02-27
  6. ^ a b Sorting Beta names at MMPND Archived 2013-04-15 at WebCite
  7. ^ Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris at Tropicos, accessed, 2015-02-27
  8. ^ Beta vulgaris L. subsp. vulgaris. In: Uotila, P. (2011): Chenopodiaceae (pro parte majore). – In: Euro+Med Plantbase, accessed, 2014-02-27
  9. ^ "Beta vulgaris (Leaf Beet Group)". Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO. 2017. Retrieved 19 January 2017. 
  10. ^ "Production guidelines for Swiss chard" (PDF). Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Republic of South Africa. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  11. ^ Chard, Online Etymological Dictionary
  12. ^ Forget Hip Kale, Get Your Green Fix From Swiss Chard, Clifford Wright, Zester Daily.
  13. ^ Chard, Centre for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture
  14. ^ Dobbs, Liz (2012). "It's chard to beet". The Garden. Royal Horticultural Society. 137 (6): 54. 
  15. ^ "Recipe for Colcasia in Egyptian Cuisine". Egyptian Cuisine Recipes. Retrieved January 10, 2015. 

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