Sea beet, Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima, is a member of the family Chenopodiaceae. Linnaeus first described Beta vulgaris in 1753; in the second edition of Species Plantarum in 1762 he divided the species into wild and cultivated varieties, giving the name Beta maritima to the wide taxon.
The sea beet is native to the coasts of Europe, northern Africa, and southern Asia. It also lives in the wild along some shores in Great Britain.
The sea beet is the wild ancestor of common vegetables such as beetroot, sugar beet, and Swiss chard. Its leaves have a pleasant texture and taste when served raw or cooked, and because of this it is also known as wild spinach.
It is a perennial plant which grows up to 1.2 m, and flowers in the summer. Its flowers are hermaphroditic, and wind-pollinated. It requires moist, well-drained soils, and does not tolerate shade. However, it is able to tolerate relatively high levels of sodium in its environment because its leaves are waxy and can endure the salty breeze.