Chard 'Bright Lights'
Beta vulgaris cicla
"It grew with me in 1596 . . . which plant nature doth seeme to play and sport herselfe: for the seeds taken from the plant, which was altogether of one colour and sowne, doth bring forth plants of many and variable colours . . ." —John Gerard, The Herball or General History of Plantes, 1636
Let's get the Swiss-ness issue out and over, once and for all. The hard fact is, chard isn't any more native to Switzerland than, say, the palm tree. Clocks, yes. Intractable neutrality, surely. But chard? Not on your retentive timetable. An erstwhile theory as it that the Swiss botanist Koch was the author of this cultivar's scientific name and, since that auspicious moment, its name has honored his homeland. In truth, the original home of chard most probably lies considerably farther south in the Mediterranean region, as its culinary and medicinal virtues were lauded by Aristotle himself as early as the fourth century B.C.