Chard (Beta vulgaris var. cicla), also known as Swiss Chard, Silverbeet, Perpetual Spinach, Crab Beet and Mangold, is a vegetable and a Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima. While the leaves are eaten, it is in the same species as the garden beet (beetroot), which is grown primarily for its edible roots.
The word Swiss was used to distinguish chard from French spinach varieties by nineteenth century seed catalog publishers. The chard is very popular among Mediterranean cooks. The first varieties have been traced back to Sicily.
Chard can be harvested while the leaves are young and tender or after maturity when they are larger and have slightly tougher stems. Chard is extremely perishable.
Chard has shiny green ribbed leaves, with stems that range from white to yellow and red depending on the cultivar. It has a slightly bitter taste. Fresh young chard can be used raw in salads. Mature chard leaves and stalks are typically cooked or sauteed; the bitter flavor fades with cooking.
Cultivars of chard include green forms, such as 'Lucullus' and 'Fordhook Giant', as well as red-ribbed forms such as 'Ruby Chard', 'Rainbow Chard', and 'Rhubarb Chard'.