Easy Gardening Plants: Strawberry Spinach

by Polly

Strawberry Spinach is one of the best-kept secrets of the herb world for easy gardening. This native American plant was grown by German Monks over 400 years ago and rediscovered in a monastery in Europe.

It is native to most of North America throughout the United States and Canada, including northern areas.  And, It is considered to be endangered in Ohio. It is also found in parts of Europe and New Zealand.

The green leaves of strawberry spinach are edible with a ‘nutty’ flavor while the strawberry-like fruit grows on leafy stems above the rosette of leaves.

It’s always so nice when you can use almost the entire plant instead of just one part. Strawberry Spinach draws out this pleasure by setting new leaves all season long. Snip off just what you need at the moment, and harvest more later!

Edible flowers of strawberry spinach are quite small. They resemble raspberries more than strawberries.But,  there’s no mistaking that bright strawberry-red hue! The berries arise at the base of each stem, and a plant in full fruit is a glorious sight!

Flowers set small red fruits in late summer and fall that taste a bit like mulberries and are lovely fresh or canned. The fruits are juicy and tasty when mature.So,do not be too anxious to pick. Leave until they become dark crimson red, then pick. So sweet and delicious.

And, the fruits  also contain small, black, lens-shaped seeds that are 0.7-1.2 mm long.

Flowering in summer, strawberry spinach is easy to grow. It enjoys full sun and should be watered as needed. And, it is a very ornamental plant.

Strawberry Spinach is a tall plant with berries at every level of the plant; berries here, berries there, and berries everywhere. Each plant produces more berries that we imagined and, as an extra bonus, the plant is very pretty.

You’ll definitely want it  in the front and center of the herb garden!  And,it will easily grow in a container as well.

The triangular, toothed leaves  of strawberry spinach are thinner than spinach, very nutritious, and high in vitamins C and A. Tender shoots are used raw in salads or cooked like spinach.

One of the interesting plants we grow, or should I say, grows itself, strawberry spinach, is also called strawberry blite, beet berry, Indian paint, and a number of other names.

Our strawberry spinach (Chenopodium capitatum) grows two-three feet in both height and width. The serrated triangular leaves are a great substitute for spinach when young but become somewhat tough as they mature.

The mature plants develop brilliant red thimble sized berries that when really ripe taste, to me, just like Malt-O-Meal cereal… kind of sweet and nutty.

This plant can also be used to create pink and red dye by simmering the berries in water until the desired color is achieved, though I have never tried this.

Grow Strawberry Spinach in full sun (direct-sowing the seeds works best) and rich, fertile soil. It reaches about 18 inches high and 12 inches wide, and needs no staking or supports.

Easy and trouble-free, it’s an exciting new addition to the herb garden, vegetable patch, or even the flowering annual bed.

The plant is very cold hardy but will thrive in the hottest weather. With a long taproot it can get by on very little water. But remember, the more water it gets the larger the fruit.

I have no doubt that strawberry spinach has many healthy attributes. As a dark, leafy green, strawberry spinach possesses several important phytochemicals, including lutein.

Lutein helps prevent age-related macular degeneration. Spinach also contains lipoic acid, which helps antioxidant vitamins C and E regenerate. Because of its role in energy production, lipoic acid is being investigated for regulating blood sugar levels.

Strawberry spinach is a good source of vitamin C, another powerful antioxidant.

Want to know more about strawberry spinach?

Then put your question here.
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Yours truly, Polly – Organic Gardener

 

 

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Lynne Scott February 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm

I live in Ohio and have never seen or even heard of strawberry spinach–two things I love. Where can I purchase these plants??? They are pretty too!

Polly February 25, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Hi Lynne,
I have just sent you an email about strawberry spinach.
Here’s the link to buy seeds: http://www.jungleseeds.com/SeedShop/Sala…

Rolando March 15, 2012 at 10:46 am

Can I plant this in the tropics ?

Polly March 15, 2012 at 11:31 am

I’d make a try if the weather is not too hot

Karyn March 21, 2012 at 9:12 am

I don’t see this on the list of Ohio’s endangered plants….

Thanks for the tips though! I live in Ohio and just ordered some seeds to try growing some of these! How many seeds should I plant for each plant I want to grow? The packet comes with 50 seeds.

Lynn March 30, 2012 at 9:42 am

I have grown these plants from seed they are about 3 inch at the minute i planted them out last week under cloches. Our climate in nw england has been very mild this year will see how they go and let you know

marilyn April 18, 2012 at 1:58 pm

im so excited!! i live in victoria BC and just planted some seeds, IM STOKED!
great article, it just got me sooo excited for this plant, i LOVE herbs and organic gardening, this plant is going to be a total treat!

Margaret Chang May 3, 2012 at 1:31 pm

I live in the southwest dessert. Will they grow here in the summer with enough water and some afternoon shade? Or shall I wait to plant them in the fall? Thank you.

Polly May 11, 2012 at 9:23 am

I’d give it a try, but don’t wait for too long.

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