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BRASSICA oleracea 'Red Russian'

Image of Brassica oleracea 'Red Russian' (Acephala Group)

James H. Schutte

Family

Brassicaceae

Botanical Name

BRASSICA oleracea 'Red Russian'( Acephala Group)

Plant Common Name

Kale

General Description

An exceptionally heat- and cold-tolerant kale, 'Red Russian' has large, lobed, uncrinkled leaves prized for their sweet tender flavor. Typically grown as an annual, kale is a cool season vegetable tracing its ancestry to Brassica oleracea, a fleshy-leaved, short-lived perennial from coastal areas of western and southern Europe.

This cultivar bears loose rosettes of thigh-high, gray-green leaves with purple veins and stems. In cool weather the leaves turn red-purple. Despite its relative heat tolerance, this cultivar may dwindle in heat and sometimes bolts, becoming lanky and producing sprays of four-petaled lemon yellow flowers on tall stems. Plants that overwinter often bloom in spring.

Grow 'Red Russian' in full to partial sun and fertile, organic-rich garden soil with ample drainage. Although tolerant of subfreezing temperatures, plants will perish in severe cold. Sow seeds in the chill of early spring, or in mid to late summer for a fall crop. Plants mature 50 to 60 days after sowing, although the tender young leaves can be harvested earlier for salads. Often achieving their best flavor after frost, the relatively tough, pungently flavored mature leaves are best steamed or sauteed rather than raw. Hot weather and bolting cause leaves to become bitter.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    6 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    6 - 11

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, H1, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Vegetable

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    24"-30" / 61.0cm - 76.2cm

  • Width

    15"-20" / 38.1cm - 50.8cm

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer

  • Native To

    Southern Europe, Western Europe, Mediterranean

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Salt

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Rosette/Stemless

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow

  • Fruit Color

    Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Purple, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Purple, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Purple, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Purple, Gray Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Bold

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Semi-Evergreen

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Bedding Plant, Container, Edible, Herb / Vegetable, Mixed Border

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes