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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Spinacea oleracea (Spinach)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Core Eudicots > Order: Caryophyllales > Family: Amaranthaceae

Spinacea oleracea appears to have been selectively cultivated from Spinacea tetrandra which is native to the mountainous regions of southwestern Asia (the Himalayas and Afghanistan). The first known record of using Spinach as a vegetable dates back to China in the 7th to 8th centuries AD and the first record of its use in Europe dates to the 1200's. 

Spinach can be eaten raw in salads or lightly cooked. It contains oxalic acid which gives it an acidic taste and it is rich in Vitamin A.


  • Sauer, J.D. 1993. Historical geography of crop plants - a select roster. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida.

Text by Hamish Robertson