The Wild Cabbage
Brassica oleracea is a plant species that includes many cultivars, notably cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, kohlrabi and kai-lan, just to mention a few
They all belong to the cabbage family Cruciferae (Brassicaceae) along with Brassica rapa (turnip, Chinese cabbage). and, Brassica napus (rapeseed.), They are rich sources of glucosinolates, sulfur-containing compounds that impart a characteristic pungent aroma when they are cut or cooked.
Brassica oleracea originated in northern Mediterranean and western Europe.
Why you should eat cruciferous vegetables
- Several studies report that a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables is linked to reduced risk of several human cancers.
- Green leafy vegetables like kale are rich in beta carotene, vitamin C and are also a good source of fibre and minerals.
- Fresh collard green, kale and mustard greens have about as much calcium as whole milk.
- Tip: most of the green leafy vegetables can be eaten raw, when young and tender, but as they mature and become strongly flavoured, brief cooking is encouraged.
Grouping of Brassica oleracea cultivars
Cultivars of Brassica oleracea are usually grouped by developmental form into seven major cultivar groups.
- Brassica oleracea, Acephala Group-includes leafy greens like kale, collard greens, Marrow Stem Kale, Palm Tree Kale, Portuguese Kale, Thousand Headed Kale. These cultivars look more like the wild cabbage in appearance.
- Brassica oleracea, Alboglabra Group: includes one variety, Chinese broccoli (kai-lan or Chinese Kale)
- Brassica oleracea Botrytis Group-Cauliflower, Romanesco broccoli, broccoflower
- Brassica oleracea Capitata group: cabbage
- Brassica oleracea Gemmifera Group: Brussels sprouts
- Brassica oleracea Gongylodes Group– Kohlrabi (German turnip or turnip cabbage)
- Brassica oleracea Italica Group-broccoli