Chard (Beta vulgaris cicla) is commonly referred to as Swiss chard and belongs to the same family as beets and spinach (Chenopodiaceae). Swiss chard has a thick, crunchy stalk to which fan-like wide green leaves are attached. The leaves may be either smooth or curly, depending upon the variety, and feature lighter-colored ribs running throughout. The stalk, which can measure almost two feet in length, comes in three colors: white, red, and yellow. Sometimes, in the market, all three varieties will be bunched together and labeled "rainbow chard." Both, the leaves and stalk of Swiss chard are edible, and their taste resembles the bitterness of beet greens and the slightly salty flavor of spinach leaves. Some popular varieties include the following:
- Bright Lights: This variety has brilliant multicolored leaves and stems.
- Fordhook Giant: It has huge glossy leaves with white veins and stems. It is tasty and high yielding, producing bumper crops even during high temperatures.
- Lucullus: This variety produces pale yellow-green leaves with fleshy midribs.
- Perpetual spinach: Also called the spinach beet, this variety produces narrower stems and dark, fleshy leaves. It can be re-grown once the stem has been harvested.
- Rhubarb chard: Also called ruby chard, this variety is noted for its magnificent bright crimson leaf stalks and dark green ruffled leaves. It is often used as an ornamental border.
- Vulcan produces beautiful red stems and dark green, sweet-tasting leaves.
- White King has snow-white stalks and deep green leaves.