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Strawberry Spinach – Easy Care Salad Green with Edible Berries

Do you enjoy trying new plants in the garden? Strawberry spinach (Chenopodium capitatum, Blitum capitatum) is a fun edible that I've enjoyed in my garden for many years. Both the leaves and berries are edible. I usually eat the younger leaves fresh in salads, and use the older leaves for cooking. The berries are bland, but add some texture to summer salads.

Strawberry spinach with berries

Strawberry spinach is also known as Blite Goosefoot, Strawberry Goosefoot, Strawberry Blite,  Strawberry Sticks, Beet Berry, Beetroot, Indian Paint, and Indian Ink. Wikipedia says, “It is native to most of North America throughout the United States and Canada, including northern areas. It is considered to be endangered in Ohio. It is also found in parts of Europe and New Zealand.”  This is interesting, since I've never seen it in the wild, but then again it mentions that it prefers “moist mountain valleys”, and I've never lived in one of those.

How do you Grow Strawberry Spinach?

I had the best luck lightly sprinkling the seeds on the soil surface (direct seeding) and scratching them in just a bit. Some folks have mentioned that strawberry spinach resents transplanting, and since it has a tap root, this would make sense. I only planted it two years. Now it volunteers around the garden each year, and I just keep the plants that are convenient. It received mostly neutral reviews on Dave's Garden, although one member called it “a real weed” because it readily seeds out. Me, I like free food, so I don't mind this habit. (You could dead head if you don't like volunteers.)  Rich soil and ample water will give the best growth and plumpest berries.

What Does Strawberry Spinach Taste Like?

The leaves taste a lot like mild spinach. As I mentioned above, you can eat them cooked or raw. The berries are bland and mildly sweet – quite similar to mulberries – with pronounced seeds. One would not mistake them in flavor for actual strawberries. The plant is high in vitamins A and C and lutein.

Like spinach, strawberry spinach is high in oxalates, so those who are sensitive to oxalates should avoid this plant. In moderation you should be just fine. The article “In Defense of Oxalic Acid” discusses some interesting information about oxalates I hadn't heard before:

Many years ago, an enzyme (an oxidase) that breaks down oxalic acid into CO2 and H2O2 was discovered and found to be naturally present in spinach leaves. However, nitrate, which can also be present because of the use of common nitrate-based fertilizers, inactivates the enzyme.

Oxalic acid is even needed by our body for many functions (including peristalsis), and plays an important role in colon health, so much so that when it is not gotten through the diet, the body synthesizes it from ascorbic acid.

When you cook the spinach the heat crystallizes, destroying it, the acid particles making them salt atoms, then the crystallized particles you obtain called oxalate bind with other salts such as calcium and potassium and they become stones. The calcium becomes unavailable and stones are therefore created. Therefore, it's not the oxalic acid that bind with other minerals making them bio-unavailable, but oxalates that are only formed when heat destroy and then crystallize the acid particles.

The article provides a lengthy discussion of the pros and cons of oxalic acid. I encourage you to take a look, especially if you are plagued with kidney stones.

What Does Strawberry Spinach Look Like and How Big Does it Grow?

The plant is low growing, forming a rosette before shooting up flower stalks that produce the berries.

Strawberry spinach plant

Most of mine don't get more than a foot across and foot tall. This year in the greenhouse I had an unusually large plant, spreading about three feet in diameter and two feet tall.

Giant strawberry spinach

Individual leaves are triangular and symmetrical, with toothed edges.

Strawberry spinach foliage

The berries appear on stems that are raised above the foliage. They start out small and green, and become larger and turn to more red as they ripen. The darkest berries will be the sweetest. You can clip an entire stem or just snag a few berries at a time – your choice.

Strawberry spinach berries

The berries get up to about one half inch across, and the seeds add a little crunch. Some people think they're great and some people don't care for them at all. They raised quite a stir when I gave out samples at the farmers market a couple years ago.

Strawberry spinach close-up

I hope you give this unusual edible a try. If your garden is anything like mine, you'll be able to enjoy it for many years to come with little or no additional work.

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Originally published March 2013, updated May 2016.

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  1. Interesting! I’ve seen this in my local seed company’s catalog before and contemplated ordering it – but I’ve never heard anyone mention it before.

    Thanks for the breakdown!

  2. Thanks for the info. I have one that I transplanted and is doing great! I just didn’t know that it was going to bolt like that and produce berries. I was researching because mine has bolted, with the start of berries and I was checking to see how I could use it. Thank you for your help! The leaves are amazing in salads and we put it n our sandwiches too. It’s yummy!!

    1. If you leave some of the berries to ripen completely on the plant, they are likely to reseed and provide you with plants in years to come. I only planted mine once and have been enjoying it around the garden ever since.

  3. I didn’t know anyone would plant this. It’s a wild weed here. But I think after reading this I should save some seeds next time and move it around a bit. Thanks for the post. Sharing this today on FB.

  4. Wow! I’ve been trying to identify this plant all spring, and just now hit the magic combination of words in google that brought up a picture of your little plant… the first I’d seen anywhere! Thanks so much! We moved to a house with extensive gardens and this had volunteered itself in several beds. I kept several to let them grow out. I also think the roots of this plant are interesting. Pulling young plants, you find a pretty large pinkish root with a pleasant smell… almost radish like. Will begin using the berries and leaves in salads today! Thanks again.

  5. Re: oxalic acid…does this mean that those prone to stones or kidney issues should avoid spinach, especially cooked?

    Other half has recently been put on a low-potassium diet and also is diabetic so we watch kidney stuff closely…

    1. It may be a problem, yes. If I remember correctly, there are different types of kidney stones, so an issue for one person might not be an issue for another. Definitely something to research.

  6. Appreciated all the info on strawberry spinach–I bought a plant, and now know more about them, and look forward to having more next year!

    1. The one that volunteered my greenhouse this year is simply gorgeous. It’s completely loaded with huge strands of bright red berries. I need to snap a few more photos before it finishes up and the other plants take over the space.

  7. My husband recently had some work done in our backyard, moving a hillside of sand and rock. I was looking around and found this plant growing all over the place, its very unusual, will it come back next year?

  8. I bought seeds this year from PARK SEEDS and very very few came up… maybe 3 plants… they are not growing very fast, but I am waiting to see the berries on them. I love planting unusual items. This was my first year for Strawberry Spinach, Patchouli and Wintergreen….also Hellenium flowers…

    1. I didn’t have high germination rates to start, but I have had volunteers show up each year since I originally planted them. I like trying new things in the garden, too. You never know when you’ll find another “must grow” plant.

  9. Can Alaska straberry spinach be frozen, or the berries part frozen. I would love to be able to eat in December.

    1. I don’t see why not, although I suspect the bland flavor would be made even more bland by the freezing process. I’d try it out and see if you think it’s worth the effort. Then you’ll know for sure if you like it or not. I’d freeze like blackberries or raspberries – first on a tray until hard, and then packed into the container of your choice so you can pour out as many as needed.

  10. Just bought these seeds on a whim. Found your article & very glad I did, very informative. My question is if the root can be used in any way?
    Would very much appreciate any info.
    Thank you!

  11. Hi,

    I’m curious about how long it takes the berries to form after the stalks shoot up? We have some in a hydroponic garden indoors just as an experiment and are excited to see some of the little green balls turning red, they are at 50 days old now. We already thinned out some leaves to cook and it was delicious, we’re really looking forward to trying the berries though just because it is so different.

    1. I confess, I’ve never attempted to count. I know it varies depending on growing conditions, as I had plants pop up in the garden and greenhouse around the same time, and the greenhouse plants outpaced the garden plants.

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