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Useful Temperate Plants

Brassica oleracea

L.

Brassicaceae


This species has been cultivated as a food crop for many hundreds of years and, in that time, several quite distinct forms have arisen. The nomenclature of these forms is confused, to say the least, and by no means universally accepted. We have followed the treatment used by GRIN, though it is very likely to be revised in the future[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

+ Synonyms

Brassica alba Boiss.

Brassica arborea Steud.

Brassica bullata Pasq.

Brassica campestris sylvestris (L.) Janch.

Brassica cephala DC. Ex H.Lév.

Brassica fimbriata Steud.

Brassica laciniata Steud.

Brassica maritima Tardent

Brassica millecapitata H.Lév.

Brassica muscovita Steud.

Brassica peregrina Steud.

Brassica quercifolia DC. Ex H.Lév.

Brassica subspontanea Lizg.

Brassica suttoniana H.Lév.

Brassica sylvestris (L.) Mill.

Crucifera brassica E.H.L.Krause

Napus oleracea (L.) K.F. Schimp. & Spenn.

Rapa rotunda Mill.

Raphanus brassica Crantz

Common Name: Wild Cabbage

No Image.

General Information

Brassica oleracea is a branched, biennial to short-lived evergreen perennial plant growing up to 120cm tall from a strong taproot. The stems become more or less woody and persist.
Wild cabbage is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and a medicine. Various cultivated forms that have been developed through cultivation, such as the cabbage, cauliflower and kale, are treated separately.

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

17
Title
Flora of the British Isles.
Publication
 
Author
Clapham, Tutin and Warburg.
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1962
ISBN
-
Description
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.

Range

Coastal regions of the Mediterranean and W. Europe north to France and Britain

Habitat

A rare plant of sea cliffs[
5
Title
Food for Free.
Publication
 
Author
Mabey. R.
Publisher
Collins
Year
1974
ISBN
0-00-219060-5
Description
Edible wild plants found in Britain. Fairly comprehensive, very few pictures and rather optimistic on the desirability of some of the plants.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
HabitEvergreen Biennial/Perennial
Height1.00 m
PollinatorsBees
Self-fertileYes
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details

The wild cabbage is native to coastal regions of western Europe and the Mediterranean.
An easily grown plant, it succeeds in full sun in any reasonable soil, though it prefers a well-drained fertile preferably alkaline soil[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. It does well in heavy clay soils. It is often found wild by the coast and tolerates considerable maritime exposure.
The true wild cabbage is a short-lived perennial, though we have grown specimens that have lived for 5 years or more[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].
A wide diversity of forms of this plants have been developed through cultivation. These include the cabbages, cauliflowers, broccolis and Brussels sprouts[
5
Title
Food for Free.
Publication
 
Author
Mabey. R.
Publisher
Collins
Year
1974
ISBN
0-00-219060-5
Description
Edible wild plants found in Britain. Fairly comprehensive, very few pictures and rather optimistic on the desirability of some of the plants.
]. Most of these forms are biennial in cultivation, though there are also some perennial forms. These different forms are detailed below and most have been given their own entry in the database.
Brassica oleracea acephala. These are the ornamental cabbages with a loose head of leaves that can be yellow, pink, purplish, or red, rarely green. These leaves are edible, though often rather tough, and the plant is much more likely to be grown for ornament than for food. This form does not have a separate entry in the database.
Brassica oleracea alboglabra. Chinese kales are fast-growing plants with tender edible leaves. Although perennials[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
], they are usually grown as annuals and are eaten as a summer and autumn crop whilst still young.
Brassica oleracea asparagoides. A short-lived perennial form of cauliflower producing a small cauliflower head in the spring followed by a number of broccoli-like flowering shoots.
Brassica oleracea botrytis. Cauliflowers are grown mainly for their edible swollen inflorescence. Different cultivars can be used to provide crops all year round.
Brassica oleracea capitata. These are the cultivated cabbages, grown for their edible leaves that usually form a compact head. Reasonably winter hardy, different cultivars can be used to provide edible plants all year round.
Brassica oleracea costata. Couve tronchuda is a tall-growing form of cabbage. It is less hardy than most other forms of this genus.
Brassica oleracea gemmifera. Brussels sprouts form large edible axillary buds 5cm or more long. They are mainly used as late autumn to spring crops.
Brassica oleracea gongylodes. Kohl rabi produces an edible swollen stem 8cm or more in diameter. It is reasonably cold hardy and provides crops from mid summer to the winter.
Brassica oleracea italica. The calabreses and sprouting broccolis, grown mainly for their edible flowering shoots. Calabrese is the less hardy and is used mainly as an autumn and early winter crop. The sprouting broccolis are very winter hardy and are grown outdoors through the winter to provide a spring to early summer crop.
Brassica oleracea medullosa. Marrowstem kales have edible leaves and stems.
Brassica oleracea palmifolia. The Jersey kale produces a very tall stem which has been used as a walking stick.
Brassica oleracea ramosa. The thousand-headed and perennial kales are very cold hardy. Their flavour is stronger than most of the other cultivated forms and they are mainly used as a winter crop. This form is very close to the wild species and has the most potential for developing perennial cultivars.
Brassica oleracea subauda. The savoy cabbages form large heads like the cultivated cabbages (B. Oleracea capitata). They have a stronger flavour, crinkly leaves and are generally more cold-hardy so can provide a winter crop in areas with quite severe winters.
Brassica oleracea sabellica. The curly kales have attractively curled leaves. These are quite cold-tolerant plants and are mainly used to provide edible leaves in winter and spring.
Brassica oleracea viridis. Collards are a cold-hardy non-heading form of cabbage, used mainly to provide green leaves in the spring.

Edible Uses

Leaves - raw or cooked[
5
Title
Food for Free.
Publication
 
Author
Mabey. R.
Publisher
Collins
Year
1974
ISBN
0-00-219060-5
Description
Edible wild plants found in Britain. Fairly comprehensive, very few pictures and rather optimistic on the desirability of some of the plants.
]. Slightly bitter raw, they can be cooked in one or more changes of water[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. We find that the slight bitterness actually enhances the flavour, and this is one of our favourite cooked leaves. The plant can usually be harvested all year round, though there will be little to pick in very cold winters[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. Older leaves can become rather tough[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Medicinal

The leaves are cardiotonic and stomachic[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
]. They have been used in the treatment of gout and rheumatism[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
]. The leaves can be used as a poultice to cleanse infected wounds - the mid-rib is removed and the leaf ironed then placed on the affected area whilst still hot[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
]. The poultice should not be left on too long or it an cause blisters[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
].

The seeds are anthelmintic, diuretic, laxative and stomachic[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
].

Other Uses

None known

Propagation

Seed - sow mid spring in situ. Seedlings transplant very well and so, if you sow the seed too thickly, it is a simple matter to move some of the plants to give them more space.
Cuttings root very easily at almost any time in the growing season[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. Use shoots about 8cm long of the current year's growth and place them in individual pots in the cuttings frame[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].
Cite as: Temperate Plants Database, Ken Fern. temperate.theferns.info. 2024-04-24. <temperate.theferns.info/plant/Brassica+oleracea>

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