Sugar Beet (Beta vulgaris altissima)

B. vulgaris rapa.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Sugar Beet
Beta vulgaris altissima

Sugar beet has excellent potential as a biomass crop, both as a source of sugar and also using the plant residue for fuel[269].

  • Medicinal Use

    Although little used in modern herbalism, beet has a long history of folk use, especially in the treatment of tumours[269].

    A decoction prepared from the seed has been used as a remedy for tumours of the intestines. The seed, boiled in water, is said to cure genital tumours[269].

    The juice or other parts of the plant is said to help in the treatment of tumours, leukaemia and other forms of cancer such as cancer of the breast, oesophagus, glands, head, intestines, leg, lip, lung, prostate, rectum, spleen, stomach, and uterus[269]. Some figure that betacyanin and anthocyanin are important in the exchange of substances of cancer cells; others note two main components of the amines, choline and its oxidation product betaine, whose absence produces tumours in mice[269]. The juice has been applied to ulcers[269].

    A decoction is used as a purgative by those who suffer from haemorrhoids in South Africa[269].

    Leaves and roots used as an emmenagogue[269].

    Plant effective in the treatment of feline ascariasis[269].

    In the old days, beet juice was recommended as a remedy for anaemia and yellow jaundice, and, put into the nostrils to purge the head, clear ringing ears, and alleviate toothache[269]. Beet juice in vinegar was said to rid the scalp of dandruff as scurf, and was recommended to prevent falling hair[269]. Juice of the white beet was said to clear obstructions of the liver and spleen[269]. Culpepper (1653) recommended it for treating headache and vertigo as well as all affections of the brain[269].

  • Edible Use

    Root – raw or cooked. The root contains 16 – 20% sugar and this is often extracted and used as a sweetener[142]. This plant is a major source of sugar in many temperate areas. The root can also be used as a vegetable. When cooked it is quite tender, but with some fibrous strands. It has a very sweet flavour that some people find too sweet[K]. The raw root is rather tough, but makes a pleasant addition to salads when grated finely[K].

    Leaves – raw or cooked. A very acceptable spinach substitute[K]. Some people dislike the raw leaves since they can leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth[K].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow April in situ.
Beets grow well in a variety of soils, growing best in a deep, friable well-drained soil abundant with organic matter, but doing poorly on clay. They prefer an open position and a light well-drained soil[52]. The optimum pH is 6.0 – 6.8, but neutral and alkaline soils are tolerated in some areas. Some salinity may be tolerated after the seedling stage. Beets are notable for their tolerance to manganese toxicity. Beet is reported to tolerate an annual precipitation of 23 to 315cm, an average annual temperature range of 5.0 to 26.6¡C and a pH of 4.2 to 8.2[269]. Sugar beet is widely cultivated as a commercial sugar crop in temperate climates. About one third of all sugar production in the world is derived from this plant[269]. It is not usually grown on a garden scale. There are several named varieties[46].
A cultivated form of B. vulgaris maritima that is grown for the sugar content of its root.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.