Botanical name : Beta Vulgaris
Common names : Sea Beet, Wild Spinach, Sea Spinach
Physical appearance : A perennial growing up to 1 metre in height. It has shiny, fleshy leaves which are available throughout most of the year. Its flowers consist of tiny green blooms in long leafy spikes.
Edible parts : Leaves, flowers and roots.
Best places to find : Easily found in the UK on coastlines, dunes, sea-walls, cliffs and shingle banks. Can also be found in other temperate environments.
Time of year : Best harvested between April and October. Try and pick the big, fleshy, leaves from the bottom of the plant as well as the younger shoots from the top. The larger leaves will "squeak" when you touch them, similar to the feel of paper. Always wash thoroughly before consumption.
Serving suggestions : Sea beet can be used in much the same way as store bought spinach. Tasty when cooked with garlic, salt and butter. Alternatively, use it in stews, tarts, soups, salads or served with pasta.
Other uses : ?
NB - Please be sure you know what you are picking. Many plants look similar to one another and many can be poisonous! Please seek professional instruction if you are unsure!
Photo courtesy of Meneerke Bloem via GNU Free Documentation Licence