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BRASSICA oleracea

Image of Brassica oleracea

Felder Rushing

Family

Brassicaceae

Botanical Name

BRASSICA oleracea

Plant Common Name

Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Collards, Kale, Kohlrabi

General Description

Cabbage, kale, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, and other important green vegetables all descend from this short-lived perennial from coastal areas of western and southern Europe.

In the wild, Brassica oleracea forms dense over-wintering rosettes of large, fleshy, lobed, gray-green leaves, which give rise in spring to tall spikes of pale yellow, four-petaled flowers. Developed over many centuries, cultivated forms may have loose or densely packed rosettes of basal leaves (kale, collard greens, and cabbage) or stem leaves (Brussels sprouts), bulbous stems (kohlrabi), or large edible florets (broccoli and cauliflower). The foliage is typically thick, waxy, and deeply veined, and may be medium to dark green, green-gray, or purple-red in color. Plants may be annual or biennial. Hundreds of cultivars of varying sizes, shapes and colors exist and days to harvest vary widely depending on the cultivar.

Botanically, this diverse species is divided into the acephala group (kales, collards, and other loose-leaved vegetables); alboglabra group (annual Asian vegetables including Chinese broccoli and Chinese kale); botrytis group (cauliflower and broccoli); capitata group (cabbages); gemmifera group (Brussels sprouts); gongylodes group (kohlrabi); italica group (Italian broccoli types); and tronchunda group (Portugese cabbage and other cabbage-like annuals with spreading leaves).

These cool weather crops prefer full sun and fertile, organic-rich garden soil with ample drainage. Most are sown in the chill of early spring or in fall several weeks before first frost. In addition, many selections, including cabbages and kales, taste better if harvested after the first fall frost. These wonderful, variable vegetables are generally easy to grow and very tasty. Ornamental selections such as flowering kales are beautiful in fall gardens and containers.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    6 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    6 - 11

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, H1, H2, 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

    12"-36" / 30.5cm - 91.4cm (24)

  • Width

    12"-18" / 30.5cm - 45.7cm (12)

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer

  • Native To

    Europe, Mediterranean, Canary Islands, Northern Africa

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Rosette/Stemless

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Red, Green, Purple, Blue Green, Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Red, Purple, Blue Green, Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Red, Green, Purple, Blue Green, Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Red, Purple, Blue Green, Gray Green, Dark 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

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes