Blitum Virgatum. Strawberry Blite

Class and Order:

Monandria Digynia.

Generic Character:

Col. 3-fidus. Petala O. Sem. 1. calyce baccato.

Specific Character and Synonyms:

BLITUM virgatum capitellis sparsis lateralibus. Linn. Syst. Vegetab. ed. 14. Murr. p. 53. Ait. Kew. v. 1. p. 7.

ATRIPLEX sylvestris mori fructu. Bauh. Pin. p. 519.

ATRIPLEX sylvestris baccifera. Clus. Hist. cxxxv.

276 Blitum Virgatum Strawberry Blite

No. 276.

This plant, not unfrequently met with in gardens, is known to most cultivators by the name of Strawberry Spinach; the leaves somewhat resembling those of the latter, and the fruit that of the former: C. Bauhine likens its berries to those of the Mulberry, to which they certainly bear a greater resemblance: in most of the species of this genus the calyx exhibits a very singular phenomenon, when the flowering is over, it increases in size, becomes fleshy, and finally pulpy, containing the ripe seed, which however it does not wholly envelope; thus from each cluster of flowers growing in the alae of the leaves are produced so many berries, of a charming red colour, to which the plant owes its beauty altogether, for the flowers are small, herbaceous, and not distinctly visible to the naked eye; they can boast however of being of the first class in the Linnean system Monandria, to which few belong.

Strawberry Blite is a hardy annual, growing spontaneously in some parts of France, Spain, and Tartary; is not a very old inhabitant of our gardens, Mr. Aiton mentioning it as being first cultivated by Mr. Miller in 1759. Its berries are produced from June to September; in their taste they have nothing to recommend them, though not pleasant they are harmless.

Clusius we believe to be the first author who gives a figure and description of it.

It affects a dry soil, and open situation; in such there is no necessity to give any particular directions for its cultivation, as it comes up readily from seed spontaneously scattered, so much so as sometimes to prove a troublesome weed.