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FOC | Family List | FOC Vol. 5 | Chenopodiaceae | Beta

1. Beta vulgaris Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 222. 1753.

甜菜 tian cai

Herbs annual or biennial. Root stout, tuberlike, and napiform or fusiform, or branched and not tuberlike. Stem erect, ± branched, ribbed, striate. Basal leaves long petiolate; petiole stout, abaxially convex, adaxially flattened or slightly concave; leaf blade oblong, 20-30 × 10-15 cm, adaxially crisped, sublustrous, abaxially with strongly protruding veins, base cuneate, truncate, or slightly cordate, margin entire or undulate, apex obtuse. Cauline leaves alternate, smaller than basal ones; leaf blade ovate or lanceolate-oblong, base gradually narrowed into petiole, apex attenuate. Flowers 2- or 3-glomerulate. Perianth united at base; segments linear or narrowly oblong, becoming leathery and incurved in fruit. Utricle basally sunken into perianth, distally subsucculent. Seed red-brown, sublustrous, lenticular, 2-3 mm in diam.; perisperm farinaceous. Fl. May-Sep, fr. Jul.

Commonly cultivated. in China [native to N Africa, SW Asia, and Europe; widely cultivated].

This species is highly variable, with many subspecies, varieties, and forms described. Four cultivated varieties are here recognized in China.

1 Root branched, not tuberlike.   1b var. cicla
+ Root tuberlike.   (2)
2 (1) Root purple-red; leaf veins purple-red.   1a var. vulgaris
+ Root orange-yellow or white; leaf veins not purple-red.   (3)
3 (2) Root white.   1c var. altissima
+ Root orange-yellow.   1d var. lutea


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