1. Beta vulgaris Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 222. 1753; Hook. f., F1.Bit. Ind. 5: 5, 1886; subsp. maritima (L.) Archangeli, Comp.F1. Ital. 593.1882; R.R.Stewart, Ann.Cat.Vasc.Pl.W.Pak.Kashm. 220. 1972; Hedge in Rech. f., F1. Iran. 172: 21. 1997. (Fig.1, A-D).
Beta maritima L., Sp. P1. ed. 2: 322. 1762.
Annual to perennating stout herb, glabrous to hirsute, up to 100 cm long, decumbent to erect, branched and leafy, green to purplish-violaceous; roots slender to tuberous with sugar storage. Leaves usually up to 12 x 6 cm, petiolate; radical rosulate, ovate, cuneate to subcordate; cauline rhombic-oblong to linear-lanceolate. Floral clusters (1-) 2-4-flowered, arranged in long, slender, ± interrupted spikes, uaually with smaller subtending leaves (bracts); bracteoles very small or aborted. Perianth herbaceous, green, 2-5 mm long, as long as or exceeding the diameter of the fruit, united and indurated below, usually incurved and ± keeled.
Fl. Per.: March-May.
Type: Habitat in Angliae & Belgii Iitoribus maris (Herb. LINN 314. 3. microfiche !).
A highly polymorphic taxon, in which great variability is often present in leaf shape, size and in the general facies of perianth. Several infra-taxa have been recognized (Aellen in Ber. Schweiz. Bot. Ges. 48:470-476. 1938). Generally, it is found near coastal areas (Europe and Mediterranean), but in our area it is usually found in cultivation as inland plant. About 15 (-20) % sugar is found in the roots; Distribution: Europe, N. Africa, Asia; widely cultivated (beet).