Brassica oleraceae var. botrytis - Purple Cauliflower


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Although the true wild origin of Purple Cauliflower is not quite known, this heirloom variety comes from Sicily, another purple variety exists from S. Africa. 

In its wild, uncultivated form, Brassica oleraceae is called wild cabbage, originating in often exposed and harsh conditions in western Europe. Wild cabbage has a high tolerance for salt and lime, reflected in similar alkaline and saline tolerance in the modern domesticated forms. 


Cauliflower is, of course, edible, and eaten widely throughout the world. Cauliflower is rich in vitamin C. A half cup of florets provides nearly half of ones daily requirement. Cauliflower is also a good source of fiber, vitamin A, folate, calcium and potassium as well as selenium, which works with Vitamin C to boost the immune system. Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower are known for their high levels of cancer-fighting phytochemicals know as glucosinolates. 

Brassica oleracea is a plant species that includes many different familiar vegetable cultivars. Interestingly all of these are of the same genus and species, Brassica oleracea, only selected for different traits over time resulting in a wide range of variability.

Notable Brassica oleraceae cultivars include cabbagebroccolicauliflowerkaleBrussels sproutscollard greenssavoykohlrabi, and gai lan.

The purple color is naturally occurring, caused by the presence of anthocyanins, a group of antioxidants which can also be found in red cabbage and red wine.


Cauliflower is easily grown from seed and can be germinated either en situ in the garden or in a greenhouse. Place seeds in a moist germination medium. Cover lightly. After germination allow. In a mild climates cauliflower and other Brassica can be grown throughout the year. However they prefer cool weather to hot. 

In areas with alkaline and/or saline soils, Brassicas tend to do well as long as they are kept relatively free of competition. 

Interestingly the Brassica family is one of the few plant groups that does not apparently have associations with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. 





Brassica rapa - Rapini


Actually more closely related to the turnip (Brassica rapa var. rapa) then broccoli, Rapini is likely the semi-domesticated descent of a wild herb originating either in China or the Mediterranean region.

Rapini (commonly marketed in the United States as broccoli raab or broccoli rabe


The edible stems and buds buds somewhat resemble broccoli, and are closely related, but do not form a large head. Rapini is known for its slightly bitter taste and is particularly associated with Italian, Galician, and Portuguese cuisines.

All tender parts of the plant are traditionally sautéed with olive oil or butter, garlic and chilis, then eaten as a side dish or used in sandwiches, etc. It is a traditional side dish for porchetta. 

Rapini is a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium, calcium, and iron. The leaves, stems, buds, and flowers are edible. Photos of the flowers and buds below.

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