spinach, annual plant ( Spinacia oleracea ) of the family Chenopodiaceae (goosefoot family), probably of Persian origin and known to have been introduced into Europe in the 15th cent. It is valued as a vegetable for the high vitamin and iron content of its leaves, and numerous varieties of the species are cultivated. New Zealand spinach belongs to the family Aizoaceae. Both families to which spinach plants belong are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Caryophyllales.
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