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BRASSICA rapa (Pekinensis Group)

Image of Brassica rapa (Pekinensis Group)

Family

Brassicaceae

Botanical Name

BRASSICA rapa( Pekinensis Group)

Plant Common Name

Celery Cabbage, Napa Cabbage

General Description

Bearing dark to pale green leaves with prominent white midveins, brassicas in the Pekinensis group include the vegetables Napa cabbage, bok choy and celery cabbage. It is one of several groups in Brassica rapa, which is Eurasian in origin but now cultivated worldwide. Pekinensis types are thin-leaved with a sweet, mildly tangy flavor. Habits vary and may be barrel-shaped with crinkled foliage or cylindrical with smooth leaves.

These mustard-like annual or biennial, cool-season plants form loose rosettes of upright green leaves with white midribs. Harvest as soon as a healthy, leafy head is apparent. Tall sprays of bright yellow flowers appear in spring or summer, often in the second season of growth as temperatures warm. Rattlebox seed capsules follow, opening to scatter many reddish-brown to black seeds.

Vegetables in the Pekinensis group need full sun and moderately fertile, humus-rich, slightly acid soil with ample drainage. They generally mature quickly, from 45 to 60 days, depending on variety. Hot weather will cause them to flower ("bolt"), which usually results in sharply bitter-tasting, dwindling plants. Grow slow bolting varieties in early spring before temperatures heat up; those that are faster to bolt should be cultivated in late summer or fall when temperatures become progressively cooler. In areas with mild climates these frost-hardy veggies make excellent winter crops. Avoid disturbing the roots if transplanting seedlings into garden rows.

These brassicas are not heavy feeders and may not need fertilizer if grown in rotation with nitrogen-fixing legumes. Some are shade-tolerant and good for planting between taller vegetables. Use fabric row covers to diminish attacks by flea beetles and cabbage root maggots. The delicious, variable greens are generally easy to grow and very tasty if harvested when temperatures are cool. Enjoy the young leaves in salads and the mature leaves and stems cooked.

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

    9"-12" / 22.9cm - 30.5cm

  • Width

    6"-9" / 15.2cm - 22.9cm

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Summer

  • Native To

    Europe

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Edible, Herb / Vegetable

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes