Sea Beet (Beta vulgaris maritima) Identification

Sea Beet / Spring / Summer / Autumn / Winter / Edible

How to Identify Sea Beet

Botanical Name

Beta vulgaris maritima

Could be confused with

Possibly confused with Sea Kale although sea kale leaves are very wavy, more of a green / yellow and are really quite different when you see the two plants together.

Range and Distribution

Coastal areas of Europe including the UK and Asia


Found growing on shingle beaches, coastlines, and wastelands by the coast.

Physical Characteristics

Sea beet is a sprawling perennial growing up to 1m, although rarely found standing up.


Its leaves can vary in size greatly from 5-40cm in length and 2-20cm in width. They’re triangular to oval, glossy and dark green; the vein ridges are deep and obvious. Growing from one single point in the ground.

Flowers & Seeds

Each plant will produce a number of long thin stems up to 1m long, full of minute green flowers and seed pods between July-September.

Phil Sellens from East Sussex, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons
ceridwen / Sea beet on Mullock Bridge

Edible Use

Stem & Leaves: wilted, steamed, baked, stir-fried, for wrapping food.

Flower & Seeds: in salads, and as leaves except for wrapping food.


Traditionally used to cure intestinal tumours.

Tips and Observations

If you periodically cut back Sea beet, not the whole plant but up to 40% of its shoots it will continue to produce fresh young leaves throughout the year. Leaves growing in shaded places will be a lot larger and are perfect for wrapping fish before putting on the BBQ or beach fire.