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Spinacia oleracea

Spinacia oleracea

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Ordo: Caryophyllales

Familia: Amaranthaceae s.l.
Cladus: Chenopodiaceae s.str.
Subfamilia: Chenopodioideae
Tribus: Anserineae
Genus: Spinacia
Species: Spinacia oleracea

Spinacia oleracea L., Sp. Pl. 2: 1027. (1753)

Lectotype: Herb. LINN.-1174.1 microfiche! (designated by Hedge in Regnum Veg. 127: 90. 1993).


Chenopodium oleraceum (L.) E.H.L.Krause, (Deutschl. Fl. (ed. 2), 5: 186. (1901), nom. illeg. (later homonym of Chenopodium oleraceum Schur 1866)
Spinacia glabra Mill., Gard. Dict, ed. 8: n 2. (1768)
Spinacia oleracea subsp. glabra (Mill.) Cout., Fl. Portugal: 188. (1913)
Spinacia inermis Moench, Methodus: 318. (1794), nom. illeg.
Spinacia spinosa Moench, Methodus: 318. (1794), nom. illeg.
Spinacia domestica Borkh., Rhein. Mag. 1: 481. (1793)
Spinacia sessiliflora Stokes, Bot. Mat. Med. 4: 537. (1812), nom. illeg. superfl. (cites Spinacia oleracea L. as synonym)
Spinacia tetrandra Roxb., Hort. Beng. 72. (1814); Fl. Ind. 3: 771. (1824), nom. illeg. (later homonym of Spinacia tetrandra Steven ex M.Bieb., 1808)

Native distribution areas:

known only cultivated, origin probably in Western Asia

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition
Primary references

Linnaeus, C. 1753. Species Plantarum. Tomus II: 1027. Reference page.
Krause, E.H.L. 1901. J. Sturms Flora von Deutschland: in Abbildungen nach der Natur. 2. Auflage, 5. Band. Mittelsamige und Haufenfrüchtige, Centrospermae und Polycarpicae. 320 pp., 64 pl. Stuttgart, K.G. Lutz. BHL Reference page. : 186
Miller, P. 1768. The Gardeners Dictionary: containing the best and newest methods of cultivating and improving the kitchen, fruit, flower garden, and nursery. Ed. 8, 3 volumes (without pagination), John & Francis Rivington, London. DOI: 10.5962/bhl.title.541 Reference page. 2: Spinacia
Coutinho, A.X.P. 1913. Flora de Portugal (plantas vasculares) disposta em chaves dichotomicas. A (1st ed.). Paris, Aillaud, Alves. BHL Reference page. : 188
Moench, C. 1794. Methodus Plantas Horti Botanici et Agri Marburgensis. 780 pp., Marburgi Cattorum: Nova Libraria Academiae. BHL Reference page. 318
Borkhausen, M.B. 1793. Rheinisches Magazin zur Erweiterung der Naturkunde. 1. Band. Gießen, Heyer. (online) Reference page. : 481.
Stokes, J. 1812. A botanical materia medica, consisting of the generic and specific characters of the plants used in medicine and diet, with synonyms, and references to medical authors. Vol. IV. 702 pp. J. Johnson and Co., London. BHL Biblioteca Digital Reference page. : 537
Roxburgh, W. 1814. Hortus Bengalensis, or a Catalogue of the Plants Growing in the Hounourable East India Company's Botanical Garden at Calcutta. Serampore. BHL Reference page. : 72

Additional references

Uotila, P. 2011. Chenopodiaceae (pro parte majore). Spinacia oleracea – In: Euro+Med Plantbase - the information resource for Euro-Mediterranean plant diversity.
Freitag, H., Hedge, I.C, Jafri, S.M.H, Kothe-Heinrich, G., Omer, S. & Uotila, P. 2001. Chenopodiaceae. In: Ali, S.I. (ed.): Flora of Pakistan 204. 217 pp., Department of Botany/Missouri Botanical Press, Karachi/St. Louis, ISBN 1-930723-10-5 eFloras. Reference page. : Spinacia oleracea
Aellen, P. 1938. Beitrag zur Kenntnis von Spinacia L. Berichte der Schweizerischen Botanischen Gesellschaft = Bulletin de la Société Botanique Suisse 48: 485–490. (online) Reference page.


Hassler, M. 2018. Spinacia oleracea. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2018. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2018 July 19. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2016. Spinacia oleracea. Published online. Accessed: Feb. 25 2016.
The Plant List 2013. Spinacia oleracea in The Plant List Version 1.1. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2016 Feb. 25. 2016. Spinacia oleracea. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 25 Feb. 2016.

Vernacular names
Boarisch: Spinod
беларуская: Шпінат агародны
català: Espinac
čeština: Špenát setý
dansk: Spinat
Deutsch: Echter Spinat
Ελληνικά: Σπανάκι
English: Spinach
español: Espinaca
eesti: Aedspinat
suomi: Pinaatti
français: Épinard
עברית: תרד Tered
magyar: Paraj
italiano: Spinacio
日本語: ほうれんそう Hourensou
Lëtzebuergesch: Päinetsch
latviešu: Dārza spināti
norsk bokmål: Spinat
Nederlands: Spinazie
polski: Szpinak
português: Espinaca
русский: Шпинат огородный
slovenčina: Špenát siaty
slovenščina: Špinača
svenska: Spenat
Türkçe: Ispanak
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: پالەك
Tiếng Việt: Rau chân vịt
中文: 菠菜 bo cai

Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is a leafy green flowering plant native to central and western Asia. It is of the order Caryophyllales, family Amaranthaceae, subfamily Chenopodioideae. Its leaves are a common edible vegetable consumed either fresh, or after storage using preservation techniques by canning, freezing, or dehydration. It may be eaten cooked or raw, and the taste differs considerably; the high oxalate content may be reduced by steaming.

It is an annual plant (rarely biennial), growing as tall as 30 cm (1 ft). Spinach may overwinter in temperate regions. The leaves are alternate, simple, ovate to triangular, and very variable in size: 2–30 cm (1–12 in) long and 1–15 cm (0.4–5.9 in) broad, with larger leaves at the base of the plant and small leaves higher on the flowering stem. The flowers are inconspicuous, yellow-green, 3–4 mm (0.1–0.2 in) in diameter, and mature into a small, hard, dry, lumpy fruit cluster 5–10 mm (0.2–0.4 in) across containing several seeds.

In 2018, world production of spinach was 26.3 million tonnes, with China alone accounting for 90% of the total.[1]


Originally from Persian aspānāḵ, entering into the European languages by way of Latin, which received it from Arabic.[2] The English word "spinach" dates to the late 14th century from espinache (French: épinard).[3]

Common spinach (S. oleracea) was long considered to be in the family Chenopodiaceae, but in 2003 that family was merged into the Amaranthaceae in the order Caryophyllales.[4][5] Within the family Amaranthaceae sensu lato, Spinach belongs to the subfamily Chenopodioideae.[6]

Spinach, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 97 kJ (23 kcal)
3.6 g
Sugars 0.4 g
Dietary fiber 2.2 g
0.4 g
2.9 g
Vitamins Quantity
Vitamin A equiv.
lutein zeaxanthin
469 μg
5626 μg
12198 μg
Vitamin A 9377 IU
Thiamine (B1)
0.078 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.189 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.724 mg
Vitamin B6
0.195 mg
Folate (B9)
194 μg
Vitamin C
28 mg
Vitamin E
2 mg
Vitamin K
483 μg
Minerals Quantity
99 mg
2.71 mg
79 mg
0.897 mg
49 mg
558 mg
79 mg
0.53 mg
Other constituents Quantity
Water 91.4 g

Link to USDA database entry
  • Units
  • μg = micrograms • mg = milligrams
  • IU = International units
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA FoodData Central

Raw spinach is 91% water, 4% carbohydrates, 3% protein, and contains negligible fat. In a 100 g (3.5 oz) serving providing only 23 calories, spinach has a high nutritional value, especially when fresh, frozen, steamed, or quickly boiled. It is a rich source (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, iron and folate. Spinach is a moderate source (10-19% of DV) of the B vitamins, riboflavin and vitamin B6, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, and dietary fiber (table). Although spinach is touted as being high in iron and calcium content, and is often served and consumed in its raw form, raw spinach contains high levels of oxalates, which block absorption of calcium and iron in the stomach and small intestine. Spinach cooked in several changes of water has much lower levels of oxalates and is better digested and its nutrients absorbed more completely.[7][8] In addition to preventing absorption and use, high levels of oxalates remove iron from the body.[8][9]
Vitamin K

A quantity of 100 g of spinach contains over four times the recommended daily intake of vitamin K (table). For this reason, individuals taking the anticoagulant warfarin – which acts by inhibiting vitamin K – are instructed to minimize consumption of spinach (as well as other dark green leafy vegetables) to avoid blunting the effect of warfarin.[10]
Production, marketing, and storage
Spinach production - 2018
Country Production
(millions of tonnes)
China 23.8
United States 0.38
Japan 0.23
Turkey 0.23
World 26.3
Source: UN Food & Agriculture Organization, Statistics Division (FAOSTAT)[1]

In 2018, world production of spinach was 26.3 million tonnes, with China alone accounting for 90% of the total.[1]

Fresh spinach is sold loose, bunched, or packaged fresh in bags. Fresh spinach loses much of its nutritional value with storage of more than a few days.[11] Fresh spinach is packaged in air, or in nitrogen gas to extend shelf life. While refrigeration slows this effect to about eight days, fresh spinach loses most of its folate and carotenoid content over this period of time. For longer storage, it is canned, or blanched or cooked and frozen.[11]

Some packaged spinach is exposed to radiation to kill any harmful bacteria. The Food and Drug Administration approves of irradiation of spinach leaves up to 4.0 kilograys, having no or only a minor effect on nutrient content.[12] Spinach may be high in cadmium contamination depending on the soil and location where the spinach is grown.[13]

Spinach is thought to have originated about 2,000 years ago in ancient Persia from which it was introduced to India and ancient China via Nepal in 647 AD as the "Persian vegetable".[14] In AD 827, the Saracens introduced spinach to Sicily.[15] The first written evidence of spinach in the Mediterranean was recorded in three 10th-century works: a medical work by al-Rāzī (known as Rhazes in the West) and in two agricultural treatises, one by Ibn Waḥshīyah and the other by Qusṭus al-Rūmī. Spinach became a popular vegetable in the Arab Mediterranean and arrived in Spain by the latter part of the 12th century, where Ibn al-ʻAwwām called it raʼīs al-buqūl, 'the chieftain of leafy greens'.[16] Spinach was also the subject of a special treatise in the 11th century by Ibn Ḥajjāj.[17]

Spinach first appeared in England and France in the 14th century, probably via Spain, and gained common use because it appeared in early spring when fresh local vegetables were not available.[14] Spinach is mentioned in the first known English cookbook, the Forme of Cury (1390), where it is referred to as 'spinnedge' and 'spynoches'.[14][18] During World War I, wine fortified with spinach juice was given to injured French soldiers with the intent to curtail their bleeding.[14][19]
In popular culture

The comics and cartoon character Popeye the Sailor Man has been portrayed since 1931 as having a strong affinity for spinach, particularly the canned variety. He becomes physically stronger after consuming it.[20] This is usually attributed to the iron content of spinach, but in a 1932 strip, Popeye says "spinach is full of vitamin A an' tha's what makes hoomans strong and helty".[21]
See also

Green leafy vegetable
Ipomoea aquatica
Mountain spinach
Palmer amaranth
Spinach dip
Spinach in the United States
Spinach salad
Spinach soup
Tetragonia tetragonioides
White goosefoot


"Crops/Regions/World List for Production Quantity of Spinach in 2018". UN Food & Agriculture Organization. 2018. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
Julia Cresswell (9 September 2010). Oxford Dictionary of Word Origins. OUP Oxford. p. 415. ISBN 978-0-19-954793-7.
"Spinach". Online Etymology Dictionary, Douglas Harper. 2019. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
"Caryophyllales". Retrieved 2020-12-02.
Pam Dawling (1 February 2013). Sustainable Market Farming: Intensive Vegetable Production on a Few Acres. New Society Publishers. pp. 244–. ISBN 978-1-55092-512-8.
Rubatzky, Vincent E.; Yamaguchi, Mas (1997), Rubatzky, Vincent E.; Yamaguchi, Mas (eds.), "Spinach, Table Beets, and Other Vegetable Chenopods", World Vegetables: Principles, Production, and Nutritive Values, Boston, MA: Springer US, pp. 457–473, doi:10.1007/978-1-4615-6015-9_21, ISBN 978-1-4615-6015-9, retrieved 2021-06-11
"Osteoporosis Diet & Nutrition: Foods for Bone Health". National Osteoporosis Foundation. 2015-12-21. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
Noonan SC, Savage GP (1999). "Oxalate content of foods and its effect on humans" (PDF). Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 8 (1): 64–74. doi:10.1046/j.1440-6047.1999.00038.x. PMID 24393738.
Williams, Sue Rodwell; Long, Sara (1997). Nutrition and diet therapy. p. 229. ISBN 978-0-8151-9273-2.
Sheps SG (19 April 2018). "Warfarin diet: What foods should I avoid?". Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
"Storage time and temperature effects nutrients in spinach". Retrieved 2008-07-05.
Bliss, Rosalie Marion (27 May 2010). "Nutrient retention of safer salads explored". US Department of Agriculture.
"ToxGuide for cadmium" (PDF). Atlanta, GA: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, US Department of Health and Human Services. October 2012.
"Spinach history - origins of different types of spinach". Vegetable Facts. 2019. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
Rolland, Jacques L.; Sherman, Carol (2006). The Food Encyclopedia. Toronto: Robert Rose. pp. 335–338. ISBN 9780778801504.
Ibn al-ʻAwwām, Yaḥyá ibn Muḥammad (1802). "23.8". Kitāb al-Filāḥah. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
Clifford A. Wright. Mediterranean Vegetables: A Cook's ABC of Vegetables and their Preparation in Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, the Middle East, and North Africa, with More than 200 Authentic Recipes for the Home Cook. (Boston: Harvard Common Press, 2001). pp. 300-301.
Rolland, Jacques; Sherma, Carol (2006). Spinach. The Food Encyclopedia: Over 8,000 Ingredients, Tools, Techniques and People. Toronto: Robert Rose. Archived from the original on July 24, 2011. Retrieved March 7, 2010.
Margaret Grieve; Maud Grieve (1 June 1971). A modern herbal: the medicinal, culinary, cosmetic and economic properties, cultivation and folk-lore of herbs, grasses, fungi, shrubs, & trees with all their modern scientific uses. Courier Dover Publications. pp. 761–. ISBN 978-0-486-22799-3. Retrieved 13 August 2010.
Gabbatt, Adam (8 December 2009). "E.C. Segar, Popeye's creator, celebrated with a Google doodle". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 May 2010.
Joe Schwarcz, Monkeys, Myths, and Molecules: Separating Fact from Fiction in the Science of Everyday Life, 2015, ISBN 1770411917, p. 245; spinach actually contains beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A

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