Chard or Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris, Cicla-Group and Flavescens-Group) (//) is a green leafy vegetable. In the cultivars of the Flavescens-Group, the leaf stalks are large and often prepared separately from the leaf blade; the Cicla-Group is the leafy spinach beet. The leaf blade can be green or reddish in color; the leaf stalks are usually white, or a colorful yellow or red.
|Subspecies||Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris|
|Cultivar group||Cicla Group, Flavescens Group|
|Origin||Sea beet (Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima)|
|Cultivar group members||Many; see text.|
Chard, like other green leafy vegetables, has highly nutritious leaves, making it a popular component of healthy diets. 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; it has many common names, such as silver beet, perpetual spinach, beet spinach, seakale beet, or leaf beet.
Chard was first described in 1753 by Carl von Linné as Beta vulgaris var. cicla. 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)). The accepted name for all beet cultivars, like chard, sugar beet and beetroot, is Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris. 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.
The origin of the adjective "Swiss" is unclear, since this coastal plant is not native to Switzerland. Some attribute the name to it having been first described by a Swiss botanist, either Gaspard Bauhin  or Karl Heinrich Emil Koch (although the latter was German, not Swiss). Chard is used in traditional Swiss cuisine, however, namely in a dish called Capuns from the Canton of Grisons.
Growth and harvestingEdit
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. Raw chard is extremely perishable.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||84 kJ (20 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||2.1 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.|
|Vitamin A||6124 IU|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)|
|†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'. 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 colored varieties that is often mistaken for a variety unto itself.
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.
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.
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. Also having significant content in raw chard are vitamin E and the dietary minerals, magnesium, manganese, iron and potassium. Carbohydrates, protein, fat and dietary fiber have low content.
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).
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