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HORT410 - Vegetable Crops

Classification of Brassicas

Over the last 3,000 years, the wild cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. subsp. oleracea; indigenous to the coastal areas of western Europe and Great Britain) has been developed into several distinct vegetables, collectively known as cole crops, including cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, collards, and kohlrabi (Phillips and Rix, 1993). Related Brassica species have produced the Chinese cabbage, turnip, rutabaga, and oil-seed rape (Phillips and Rix, 1993).

Brassica oleracea (2n = 18, diploid); European origin

subsp. (var.) capitata; subgroup alba; cabbage; heads formed by infolding of leaves-externally green, internally white.

subsp. (var.) capitata; subgroup rubra; red cabbage; internally white and red.

subsp. (var.) capitata; subgroup sabauda; savoy cabbage foliage highly wrinkled or savoyed, green.

subsp. (var.) botrytis; subgroup cauliflora; cauliflower ; a tight flower, generally white, some purple.

subsp. (var.) botrytis; subgroup cymosa (italica); broccoli; not as tight, more bud-like individually, blue-green in color.

subsp. (var.) gemmifera; Brussels sprouts; elongated stem, miniature heads (sprouts) in leaf axils.

subsp. (var.) acephala; subgroup laciniata; kale, collards, curly kale; dwarf type, highly curled foliage.

subsp. (var.) acephala; subgroup plana; smooth-leafed kale; a smooth rossette type; in the U.S. this is probably collards.

subsp. (var.) acephala; subgroup millecapitata; thousand-head kale; tall-growing form, producing whorls of young shoots high above the soil.

subsp. (var.) acephala; subgroup palmifolia; tree kale; tall (>2 m).

subsp. (var.) acephala; subgroup medullosa; marrow-stem kale; long, thickened stems, occassionaly curled.

subsp. (var.) gongylodes; subgroup caulo-rapa; kohlrabi; thickened stems 2 - 7 cm above soil level forming an above-ground tuber-like structure.

Brassica campestris (rapa) (2n = 20, diploid); Chinese origin

subsp. (var.) chinensis; Bok choy, Chinese mustard, pak-choi, celery mustard; resembles cos lettuce.

subsp. (var.) pekinensis; Pe-tsai, chinese cabbage, celery cabbage; resembles swiss chard.

subsp. (var.) ruvo; broccoli-raab, rapa, rapine, turnip broccoli; grown for greens, unopened flower buds and stems.

Brassica napus (rapa)

subsp. (var.) rapifera (2n = 20); turnip; similar to rutabaga; flesh white or yellow.

subsp. (var.) napobrassica (2n = 38); rutabaga; swollen hypocotyl, flesh yellow.

Other species of theCruciferae (Brassicaceae) [Brassicaceae Images] used as vegetables include the radish and Chinese radish (Raphanus sativus), and horseradish (Armoracia rusticana).

Image of Radish, by Patrick J. Rich

Sources of information:

  • Phillips, R., Rix, M. "The Random House Book of Vegetables", Random House, NY (1993).
  • Nonnecke, I.L. "Vegetable Production", Van Nostrand Reinhold, NY (1989).
  • Gray, A.R. Broccoli, Brassica oleracea L. (Italica group). In "Genetic Improvement of Vegetable Crops", (ed. G. Kalloo, B.O. Bergh), Pergamon Press, Oxford, U.K., pp. 61-86 (1993).
  • Ockendon, D.J., Smith, B.M. Brussels sprouts, Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera DC. In "Genetic Improvement of Vegetable Crops", (ed. G. Kalloo, B.O. Bergh), Pergamon Press, Oxford, U.K., pp. 87-112 (1993).
  • Chiang, M.S., Chong, C., Landry, B.S., Crete. R. Cabbage, Brassica oleracea subsp. capitata L. In "Genetic Improvement of Vegetable Crops", (ed. G. Kalloo, B.O. Bergh), Pergamon Press, Oxford, U.K., pp. 113-155 (1993).
  • Crisp, P., Tapsell, C.R. Cauliflower, Brassica oleracea L. In "Genetic Improvement of Vegetable Crops", (ed. G. Kalloo, B.O. Bergh), Pergamon Press, Oxford, U.K., pp. 157-178 (1993).
  • Kalloo, G., Rana, M.K. Chinese cabbage, Brassica pekinensis, B. chinensis. In "Genetic Improvement of Vegetable Crops", (ed. G. Kalloo, B.O. Bergh), Pergamon Press, Oxford, U.K., pp. 179-186 (1993).
  • Kalloo, G. Kale, Brassica oleracea L. var. acephala. In "Genetic Improvement of Vegetable Crops", (ed. G. Kalloo, B.O. Bergh), Pergamon Press, Oxford, U.K., pp. 187-190 (1993).
  • Kalloo, G. Kohlrabi, Brassica oleracea L. var. gongylodes. In "Genetic Improvement of Vegetable Crops", (ed. G. Kalloo, B.O. Bergh), Pergamon Press, Oxford, U.K., pp. 191-194 (1993).
  • Kaneko, Y., Matsuzawa, Y. Radish, Raphanus sativus L. In "Genetic Improvement of Vegetable Crops", (ed. G. Kalloo, B.O. Bergh), Pergamon Press, Oxford, U.K., pp. 487-510 (1993).
  • Pink, D.A.C. Swede and turnip, Brassica napus L. var. napobrassica, B. rapa L. var. glabra. In "Genetic Improvement of Vegetable Crops", (ed. G. Kalloo, B.O. Bergh), Pergamon Press, Oxford, U.K., pp. 511-519 (1993).
  • Ghosh, S.P., Madhavi, D.L. Cabbage. In "Handbook of Vegetable Science and Technology: Production, Composition, Storage, and Processing", (ed. D.K. Salunkhe, S.S. Kadam), Marcel Dekker, Inc., NY, pp. 299 - 321 (1998).
  • Madhavi, D.L., Ghosh, S.P. Cauliflower. In "Handbook of Vegetable Science and Technology: Production, Composition, Storage, and Processing", (ed. D.K. Salunkhe, S.S. Kadam), Marcel Dekker, Inc., NY, pp. 323 - 336 (1998).
  • Rangavajhyala, N., Ghorpade, V.M., Kadam, S.S. Broccoli. In "Handbook of Vegetable Science and Technology: Production, Composition, Storage, and Processing", (ed. D.K. Salunkhe, S.S. Kadam), Marcel Dekker, Inc., NY, pp. 337 - 357 (1998).
  • Kadam, S.S., Shinde, K.G. Other crucifers. In "Handbook of Vegetable Science and Technology: Production, Composition, Storage, and Processing", (ed. D.K. Salunkhe, S.S. Kadam), Marcel Dekker, Inc., NY, pp. 359 - 371 (1998).

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  • David Rhodes
    Department of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture
    Horticulture Building
    625 Agriculture Mall Drive
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    Last Update: 04/06/10