Spinach is a generic term for certain vegetables and may refer to plants from five different families including English or common spinach (Spinacia oleracea), silverbeet or Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris), French spinach or orach (Atriplex hortensis), New Zealand spinach (Tetragonia expansa), Chinese spinach (Amaranthus gangeticus), water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica) and Indian spinach (Basella rubra).
English spinach and silverbeet belong to the plant family Chenopodiaceae. In Western Australia, the term spinach normally refers to English spinach. This is less vigorous with smaller leaves than silverbeet. It is also softer and has a green rather than white midrib. English spinach is less heat tolerant than silverbeet.
Spinach is a minor crop in Western Australia that has traditionally been consumed as a boiled or steamed green vegetable. As a cooked vegetable it has now been largely displaced by Asian vegetables. Demand has increased recently since it is more commonly consumed in pre-prepared salad mixes.
Spinach is a useful source of vitamins A, B and C and calcium. It contains oxalate and should not be eaten by people suffering from kidney stones.