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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cabbage and its cross section
Cabbage and its cross section
Brassica oleracea
Cultivar Group
Capitata Group
Mediterranean, 1st century
Cultivar Group members
Many; see text.

The cabbage is a popular cultivar of the species Brassica oleracea Linne (Capitata Group) of the Family Brassicaceae (or Cruciferae), and is used as a leafy green vegetable. It is a herbaceous, biennial, dicotyledonous flowering plant distinguished by a short stem upon which is crowded a mass of leaves, usually green but in some varieties red or purplish, which while immature form a characteristic compact, globular cluster (cabbagehead).

The plant is also called head cabbage or heading cabbage, and in Scotland a bowkail, from its rounded shape. The Scots call its stalk a castock,[1] and the British occasionally call its head a loaf [2]. It is in the same genus as the turnip – Brassica rapa L.

Cabbage leaves often have a delicate, powdery, waxy coating called bloom. The occasionally sharp or bitter taste of cabbage is due to glucosinolate(s). Cabbages are also a good source of riboflavin.



Cabbage farmer in Gardena, California, 1951

The cultivated cabbage is derived from a leafy plant called the wild mustard plant, native to the Mediterranean region, where it is common along the seacoast. Also called sea cabbage and wild cabbage, [3] it was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans; Cato the Elder praised this vegetable for its medicinal properties, declaring that "It is the cabbage that surpasses all other vegetables." [4] The English name derives from the Normanno-Picard caboche (head), perhaps from boche (swelling, bump). Cabbage was developed by ongoing artificial selection for suppression of the internode length.


The only part of the plant that is normally eaten is the leafy head; more precisely, the spherical cluster of immature leaves, excluding the partially unfolded outer leaves. Cabbage is used in a variety of dishes for its naturally spicy flavor. The so-called "cabbage head" is widely consumed raw, cooked, or preserved in a great variety of dishes.[5] It is the principal ingredient in coleslaw.


"Cabbages are extremely windy, whether you take them as meat or as medicine: yea, as windy meat as can be eaten, unless you eat bag-pipes or bellows, and they are but seldom eaten in our days; and Colewort flowers are something more tolerable, and the wholesomer food of the two."

Nicholas Culpeper, A Complete Herbal, 1653

Cooked cabbage with corned beef

Cabbage is often added to soups or stews. Cabbage soup is popular in Central and eastern Europe, and cabbage is an ingredient in some kinds of borscht. Garbure (from Provençal garburo) is a thick soup of cabbage or other vegetables with. Cabbage may be an ingredient in kugel, a baked pudding served as a side dish or dessert. Cabbage is also used in many popular dishes in India. Boiling tenderizes the leaves and releases sugars, which leads to the characteristic "cabbage" aroma. Boiled cabbage has become stigmatized because of its strong cooking odor and the belief that it causes flatulence. Boiled cabbage as an accompaniment to meats and other dishes can be an excellent source of vitamins and dietary fiber. It is often prepared and served with boiled meat and other vegetables as part of a boiled dinner. Harold McGee has studied the development of unpleasant smells when cooking brassicas and reports that they develop with prolonged cooking. According to Corriher's Compendium smell doubles when prolonging cooking from 5 to 7 minutes; for best results cabbage should be sliced thinly and cooked for 4 minutes.

Cabbage rolls, a type of dolma, are an East European and Middle Eastern delicacy. The leaves are softened by parboiling or by placing the whole head of cabbage in the freezer, and then stuffed with a mixture of chopped meat and/or rice. Stuffed cabbage is called holishkes in Yiddish. A vegetable stuffed with shredded cabbage and then pickled is called mango.[6]

The largest cabbage dish ever made was on 19 December 2008 in the Macedonian city of Prilep, with 80,191 sarmas (cabbage rolls) weighing 544 kg (1,221 lbs).[7] Bubble and squeak consists of potatoes and cabbage or, especially formerly, potatoes, cabbage and meat fried together. Potatoes and cabbage or other greens boiled and mashed together make up a dish called colcannon, an Irish Gaelic word meaning white-headed cabbage, grounded in Old Irish terms for cabbage or kale (cāl), head (cend or cenn) and white (find). In the American South and Midland, corn dodgers were boiled as dumplings with cabbage and ham.[8]

Fermented and preserved

Cabbage is the basis for the German sauerkraut, Chinese suan cai and Korean kimchi. To pickle cabbage it is covered with a brine made of its own juice with salt, and left in a warm place for several weeks to ferment. Sauerkraut (colloquially referred to simply "kraut") was historically prepared at home in large batches, as a way of storing food for the winter. The word comes from German sauer (sour) and kraut (plant or cabbage) (Old High German sūr and krūt). Cabbage can also be pickled in vinegar with various spices, alone or in combination with other vegetables (turnips can be cured in the same way). Korean baechu kimchi is usually sliced thicker than its European counterpart, and the addition of onions, chillies, papaya, minced garlic and ginger is common.

Medicinal properties

Cabbage, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 103 kJ (25 kcal)
Carbohydrates 5.8 g
Sugars 3.2 g
Dietary fiber 2.5 g
Fat 0.1 g
Protein 1.28 g
Thiamine (Vit. B1) 0.061 mg (5%)
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) 0.040 mg (3%)
Niacin (Vit. B3) 0.234 mg (2%)
Pantothenic acid (B5) 0.212 mg (4%)
Vitamin B6 0.124 mg (10%)
Folate (Vit. B9) 53 μg (13%)
Vitamin C 36.6 mg (61%)
Calcium 40 mg (4%)
Iron 0.47 mg (4%)
Magnesium 12 mg (3%)
Phosphorus 26 mg (4%)
Potassium 170 mg (4%)
Zinc 0.18 mg (2%)
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database

Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin C. It also contains significant amounts of glutamine, an amino acid that has anti-inflammatory properties. Cabbage can also be included in dieting programs, as it is a low calorie food.

It is a source of indole-3-carbinol, or I3C, a compound used as an adjuvant therapy for recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, a disease of the head and neck caused by human papillomavirus (usually types 6 and 11) that causes growths in the airway that can lead to death.

In European folk medicine, cabbage leaves are used to treat acute inflammation.[9] A paste of raw cabbage may be placed in a cabbage leaf and wrapped around the affected area to reduce discomfort. Some claim it is effective in relieving painfully engorged breasts in breastfeeding women.

Fresh cabbage juice has been shown to promote rapid healing of peptic ulcers [10].

Effect on the Thyroid Gland

Cabbage may also act as a goitrogen. It blocks organification in thyroid cells, thus inhibiting the production of the thyroid hormones (thyroxine and triiodothyronine). The result is an increased secretion of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) due to low thyroid hormone levels. This increase in TSH results in an enlargement of the thyroid gland (goiter).[citation needed]


Bulgarian Cabbage

There are many varieties of cabbage based on shape and time of maturity.[11] Cabbages grown late in autumn and in the beginning of winter are called coleworts; their leaves do not form a compact head.[12] "Colewort" may also refer to a young cabbage. The word comes from Latin caulis (stalk of a plant, cabbage) and Old English wyrt (herb, plant, root). A drumhead cabbage has a rounded, flattened head. An oxheart cabbage has an oval or conical head. A pickling cabbage, such as the red-leafed cabbage, is especially suitable for pickling; krautman is the most common variety for commercial production of sauerkraut. Red cabbage is a small, round-headed type with dark red leaves. Savoy cabbage has a round, compact head with crinkled and curled leaves.[13][14] Winter cabbage will survive the winter in the open in mild regions such as the southern United States; the name is also used for Savoy cabbage.[15] Other traditional varieties include "Late Flat Dutch", "Early Jersey Wakefield" (a conical variety) and "Danish Ballhead" (late, round-headed).


The most cabbage in the world is produced in China, followed by India and then the Russian Federation.

Top ten producers of cabbage and other brassicas — 11 June 2008[table 1]
Country Production (Tonnes) Footnote
 People's Republic of China 36,335,000 tonnes (35,761,000 LT; 40,052,000 ST) [table 2]
 India 5,283,200 tonnes (5,199,800 LT; 5,823,700 ST)
 Russia 4,054,000 tonnes (3,990,000 LT; 4,469,000 ST) [table 2]
 South Korea 3,000,000 tonnes (3,000,000 LT; 3,300,000 ST) [table 2]
 Japan 2,390,000 tonnes (2,350,000 LT; 2,630,000 ST) [table 2]
 Poland 1,375,900 tonnes (1,354,200 LT; 1,516,700 ST)
 Ukraine 1,300,000 tonnes (1,280,000 LT; 1,430,000 ST) [table 2]
 Indonesia 1,250,000 tonnes (1,230,000 LT; 1,380,000 ST) [table 2]
 United States 1,171,350 tonnes (1,152,850 LT; 1,291,190 ST)
 Romania 1,120,000 tonnes (1,100,000 LT; 1,230,000 ST) [table 2]
 World 69214270 [table 3]
  1. ^ "Food And Agricultural Organization of United Nations: Economic And Social Department: The Statistical Division". Food and Agriculture Organization. Retrieved 22 August 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Food And Agricultural Organization estimate
  3. ^ Aggregate (may include official, semi-official or estimates)

Sometimes young cabbages are picked early when it is tender and small, and it is eaten as "baby veggies". Those vegetables are more tender and sweet then older picked cabbages, and can store for a longer time


Among the many destructive diseases affecting the cabbage and often other members of the cabbage family[16] are:

  • blackleg or black stem, caused by certain fungi (such as Phoma lingam); lesions in the stem near the soil surface become sunken and dark, and may girdle the stem[17]
  • black ring or black ring spot, caused by a virus; necrotic, dark and often sunken rings on the leaf surface[18]
  • black rot, caused by a bacterium (Xanthomonas campestris)
  • cabbagehead, abnormal growth in rutabagas caused by larvae of a gall midge (Contarinia nasturtii) feeding in basal part of the stalks[19]
  • cabbage yellows or cabbage wilt, caused by a fungus (Fusarium oxysporum or Fusarium conglutinans); yellowing and dwarfing
  • clubroot, common, caused by a protist (Plasmodiophora brassicae), formerly classified as a slime mold; swellings or distortions of the root, followed often by decline in vigor or by death
  • wire stem, caused by a fungus (Pellicularia filamentosa or Rhizoctonia solani); constricted, wiry stem; similar to damping-off but attacks older seedlings


(See also List of Lepidoptera that feed on Brassica).

Many insects and other pests infest cabbage plants, among them:

  • cabbage worm, any of numerous insect larvae that feed on cabbages:
    • imported cabbage worm, the green larva of the cabbage butterfly or cabbage white, any of several largely white butterflies (family Pieridae, type genus Pieris, garden whites); they include a small cosmopolitan form (P. rapae), called also small white; a larger Old World form (P. brassicae), called also large white; a common North American form (P. protodice), called also checkered white or southern cabbage butterfly; and the green-veined white (P. napi), occurring in Europe and North America; larvae eat the leaves, are toxic to animals that consume the infested foliage
    • cabbage moth or diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella) larva, cosmopolitan of European origin
    • cabbage webworm (Hellula undalis), widely distributed, native to southern Europe or Asia, destructive in the U.S. Gulf states
    • cutworm
  • cabbage aphid, cabbage aphis or turnip aphid, widely distributed and destructive grayish green plant louse (Brevicoryne brassicae); lives on leaves
  • cabbage curculio, small weevil (Ceutorhynchus rapae); feeds within stems and on leaves[20]
  • cabbage fly, cabbage root fly, root fly or turnip fly (Hylemya brassicae or Delia radicum, family Anthomyiidae), adult of small white cabbage maggot or root maggot that feeds in roots and stems
  • cabbage-leaf miner, small fly (Phytomyza rufipes) whose maggot is injurious[21]
  • cabbage looper, pale green, white-striped measuring worm (Trichoplusia ni), larva of a moth of the family Noctuidae; feeds on leaves
  • cabbage seedpod weevil (Ceutorhynchus assimilis), small, grayish black; related to the cabbage curculio but smaller; feeds on and destroys developing seeds[22]
  • cabbage snake, nematode worm of the family Mermithidae, parasitic on insect pests[23]
  • gamma moth or silver Y moth (Plusia gamma) larva; migratory European noctuid moth having a bright silvery Y-shaped mark on each fore wing[24]
  • harlequin cabbage bug (Murgantia histrionica), black stinkbug in tropical America and the warmer parts of the United States
  • serpentine leaf miner, grub that is the larva of a small fly (Liriomyza brassicae); eats out slender, white, winding burrows in the leaves
  • striped flea beetle (Phyllotreta striolata); has a yellow line on each elytron
  • zebra caterpillar, larva of an American noctuid moth (Ceramica picta); light yellow with a broad black stripe on the back and lateral stripes crossed with white

Related Brassica varieties and species

Besides cabbage proper, the species Brassica oleracea has many distinctive cultivars that are commonly known by other names. They include: broccoli (Italica Group); Brussels sprouts (Gemmifera Group), whose edible small green heads resemble diminutive cabbages; cauliflower (Botrytis Group), whose flower cluster is used as a vegetable; Chinese kale or Chinese broccoli (Alboglabra Group); kale or spring greens, a very hardy cabbage (Acephala group) that has curled, often finely cut leaves that do not form a dense head, and that some consider to be the original form of the cultivated cabbage; collard greens, a type of kale; and kohlrabi (Gongylodes Group), having an edible stem that becomes greatly enlarged, fleshy and turnip-shaped. Hybrids include broccolini (Italica × Alboglabra Group), broccoflower (Italica × Botrytis Group) and choumoelliera or marrow cabbage (cabbage, kohlrabi and kale).

There are two species of Chinese cabbage (lettuce cabbage, pakchoi, pechay) from Asia that somewhat resemble cabbage and are widely used as greens: Brassica chinensis, bok choy or celery cabbage, which forms a loose, chardlike head of dark green leaves, and Brassica pekinensis, or pe-tsai (peh-tsai), forming an elongated compact head of broad, light green leaves. Rape, an annual herb (Brassica napus) of European origin but known only as a cultigen, differs from the cabbage in its deeply lobed leaves, which are not hairy like those of the turnip.

Other 'cabbage' plants

A number of other non-cruciferous plants bear the name "cabbage" or are likened to it by their appearance, though many are not food plants with parts for human consumption.

  • Several palms called cabbage palm or cabbage tree have a terminal bud (cabbage, palm cabbage or palmito) eaten like cabbage as a vegetable, including:
    • assai palm (palmiste, royal palm, sago palm, Euterpe edulis)
    • cabbage palmetto (palm cabbage, palm thatch, pond top, pond top palmetto, sabal palmetto, swamp cabbage, species Sabal palmetto), a fan palm with an edible young terminal bud called heart of palm
    • Cussonia genus, an araliaceous tree
    • Livistona, especially L. australis, from Australia, from whose fibrous leaves the cabbage-tree hat is plaited
    • mountain palm (Roystonea oleracea), a tall West Indian palm, the source of partridgewood
    • saw cabbage palm (saw palmetto, Paurotis wrightii)
    • ti (Cordyline australis), a medium-sized New Zealand tree
  • Other kinds of trees seen as bearing a resemblance include:
    • cabbage bark (genus Andira), also called angelim or worm bark, whose bark (cabbage bark) is sometimes used in medicine as a vermifuge
    • Surinam cabbage tree (Andira retusa), having bark that is used as an anthelmintic and cathartic
    • black cabbage tree (Melanodendron integrifolium), with a campanulate involucre about the flower head
    • cabbage gum (especially Eucalyptus pauciflora and E. virgata), probably so called from the fleshy leaves
  • Still other cabbagy plants include:
    • cabbage rose (also moss rose, pale rose or Provence rose, Rosa centifolia), a fragrant garden rose having full white or pink flowers, with a dwarf variety (pomponia) called pompon
    • deer cabbage (Lupinus diffusus), a lupine
    • dog cabbage (dog's cabbage, Cynocrambe prostrata), a fleshy southern European herb
    • head lettuce (cabbage lettuce, Lactuca sativa capitata), distinguished by leaves arranged in a dense rosette, which ultimately develops into a compact head suggesting that of cabbage
    • Kerguelen cabbage, a herb (Pringlea antiscorbutica, also called horseradish) in the family Brassicaceae, from the Indian Ocean island of Kerguelen
    • Maori cabbage, the wild cabbage of New Zealand
    • native cabbage (Scaevola koenigii), a succulent Australian shrub
    • poor man's cabbage (Barbarea verna), a winter cress
    • Saint-Patrick's cabbage (London pride, Saxifraga umbrosa), a hardy perennial saxifrage native to western Europe
    • sea cabbage, also called sea kale, a European perennial herb (Crambe maritima) sometimes cultivated for its large, ovate, long-stalked leaves, used as a potherb (distinct from Brassica oleracea)
    • skunk cabbage (fetid hellebore, meadow cabbage, polecat weed, skunkweed; stinking poke, swamp cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus or its relative Lysichiton camstschatcense) (the name is sometimes used for the pitcher plant)
    • squaw cabbage (Indian lettuce, Montia perfoliata), a succulent herb; or any of various plants of the family Brassicaceae, especially of the genera Caulanthus and Streptanthus, believed to have been used as potherbs by the Indians
    • water cabbage (Nymphaea odorata), a white water lily
    • water lettuce (also called water cabbage, Pistia stratiotes), a common tropical floating plant forming a rosette of spongy, wedge-shaped leaves
    • wild cabbage, a succulent herb (Caulanthus crassicaulis) of the family Brassicaceae that has edible foliage
    • sea-otter's-cabbage (bladder kelp, sea turnip), a brown alga

Linguistic and vernacular associations

During World War II, "kraut" was an ethnic slur for a German soldier or civilian. German cabbage (Kohl) made into a salad (Salat) became in American English "cole slaw".

A thick-witted person may be called a cabbagehead. In Hebrew, the term "rosh kruv" (cabbagehead) implies stupidity.

In Italian, "cavolo" (cabbage) is a mildly impolite expression with a similar connotation to the English "crap."

The French use a term of endearment, "mon chou" or "mon petit chou", equivalent to "darling" but translated literally as "my little cabbage" in school French textbooks in England since the late 1950s. This is still used today, as can be seen in this extract from Shamrocks Falling by P A Matthews: [25]

“See there ma petite chou, now everything is worked out.”
Patricia turned and walked back to the desk. “Gérard, why must you call me ma petite chou all the time?”
“Ma chérie, it is an endearment. If you understood that in French…”
She cut him off mid sentence. “I know what it means Gérard. Even with my limited French vocabulary I know that it means my small cabbage.”
“But that is not the endearment. You do not understand…”'

The word also refers, much more complimentarily, to a pâtisserie item called "chou à la crème", a sphere of light airy pastry split and sandwiched with a thick layer of whipped or confectioner's cream. In addition, it is also used for a soft, cabbage-shaped ornament or rosette of fabric used in women's wear, such as a knot of ribbons on a dress or a crushed crown on a hat. "Chou" comes from the Latin caulis (stalk).

In England, cabbage is a rarely used slang word for cash, especially paper money or bank notes.[26] It is also used vulgarly for a person in a vegetative state, and by extension "cabbaging" means "lazing about".[27]

See also


  1. ^ OEDILF - Word Lookup. The Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form.
  2. ^ loaf of cabbage definition (from Random House)
  3. ^ 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cabbage - Wikisource.
  4. ^ "Brassica est quae omnibus holeribus antistat." (De Agri Cultura, sect. 156.) LacusCurtius • Cato On Agriculture — Sections 156‑157(English). LacusCurtius • Cato — de Re Rustica, Capitula CLVI‑CLVII(Latin). Bill Thayer's Website.
  5. ^ Cabbage Recipes and Cabbage Soup Recipes. Southern Food and Recipes - Southern-Style Recipes, Crockpot Recipes, Casserole Recipes, and More Recipezaar: "Where the World's Recipes Are".
  6. ^ Stuffed Mango Peppers Recipe #277564 @ Mass Recipes. "Massive amounts of recipes!"
  7. ^
  8. ^ Daniel Health and Disease: A Book for the People, by William Whitty Hall. Published by H.B. Price, 1859. Page 267. Google Book Search.
  9. ^ Helen M Woodman. "Cabbage leaves are poor man's poultice". British Medical Journal. Retrieved 12 December 2006. 
  10. ^ Cheney G. (1949). "Rapid healing of peptic ulcers in patients receiving fresh cabbage juice". Calif Med 70 (10): 10–5. PMID 18104715. 
  11. ^ Cook's Thesaurus: Cabbages.
  12. ^ Colewort: Definition from "Online Dictionary, Encyclopedia and much more".
  13. ^ Cavolo Verza - Savoy Cabbage. Italian Food.
  14. ^ The Joy of Savoy Cabbage. By Barbara Damrosch. The Washington Post, 8 November 2007; Page H07.
  15. ^ How to grow winter cabbage and savoy cabbage - by Terry Blackburn. Helium - "Where Knowledge Rules".
  16. ^ Cole Crop Fact sheets list. Cornell University.
  17. ^ UC IPM: UC Management Guidelines for Black Leg on Cole Crops. University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program.
  18. ^ CTVdB Virus Description - Turnip mosaic virus. Universal Virus Database (ICTVdB), International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. On Website of the National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information.
  19. ^ IPM Fact Sheet Swede Midge 1/20. New York State Integrated Pest Management Program.
  20. ^ Cabbage Curculio. Organic Gardening Information.
  21. ^ Mines of British flies and other insects - Phytomyza rufipes {Diptera: Agromyzidae}.
  22. ^ Cabbage Seedpod Weevil. Agriculture and Rural Development : Ropin' The Web, Alberta, Canada.
  23. ^ Sanitary entomology: The Entomology of Disease, Hygiene and Sanitation, by William Dwight Pierce. Published by R.G. Badger, 1921. Page 78.
  24. ^ Plant Protection - Cabbage.
  25. ^ Writing.Com: Shamrocks Falling Chapter 9
  26. ^ Cabbage entry at's Thesaurus
  27. ^ Cabbage entry at Peevish slang dictionary

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CABBAGE. The parent form of the variety of culinary and fodder vegetables included under this head is generally supposed to be the wild or sea cabbage (Brassica oleracea), a plant found near the sea coast of various parts of England and continental Europe, although Alphonse de Candolle considered it to be really descended from the two or three allied species which are yet found growing wild on the Mediterranean coast. In any case the cultivated varieties have departed very widely from the original type, and they present very marked and striking dissimilarities among themselves. The wild cabbage is a comparatively insignificant plant, growing from 1 to 2 ft. high, in appearance very similar to the corn mustard or charlock (Sinapis arvensis), but differing from it in having smooth leaves. The wild plant has fleshy, shining, waved and lobed leaves (the uppermost being undivided but toothed), large yellow flowers, elongated seed-pod, and seeds with conduplicate cotyledons. Notwithstanding the fact that the cultivated forms differ in habit so widely, it is remarkable that the flower, seed-pods and seeds of the varieties present no appreciable difference.

John Lindley proposed the following classification for the various forms, which includes all yet cultivated: (1) All the leaf-buds active and open, as in wild cabbage and kale or greens; (2) All the leaf-buds active, but forming heads, as in Brussels sprouts; (3) Terminal leaf-bud alone active, forming a head, as in common cabbage, savoys, &c.; (4) Terminal leaf-bud alone active and open, with most of the flowers abortive and succulent, as in cauliflower and broccoli; (5) All the leaf-buds active and open, with most of the flowers abortive and succulent, as in sprouting broccoli. The last variety bears the same relation to common broccoli as Brussels sprouts do to the common cabbage. Of all these forms there are numerous gardeners' varieties, all of which reproduce faithfully enough their parent form by proper and separate cultivation.

Under Lindley's first class, common or Scotch kale or borecole (Brassica oleracea var. acephala or var. fimbriata) includes several varieties which are amongst the hardiest of our esculents, and seldom fail to yield a good supply of winter greens. They require well-enriched soil, and sufficient space for full exposure to air; and they should also be sown early, so as to be well established and hardened before winter. The main crops should be sown about the first week of April, or, in the north, in the third week of March, and a succession a month later. The Buda kale is sown in May, and planted out in September, but a sowing for late spring use may be made in the last week of August and transplanted towards the end of September. To prevent overcrowding, the plants should be transplanted as soon as they are of sufficient size, but if the ground is not ready to receive them a sufficient number should be pricked out in some open spot. In general the more vigorous sorts should be planted in rows 3 ft. and the smaller growers 2 ft. apart, and 18 in. from plant to plant. In these the heads should be first used, only so much of the heart as is fresh and tender being cut out for boiling; side shoots or sprouts are afterwards produced for a long time in succession, and may be used so long as they are tender enough to admit of being gathered by snapping their stalks asunder.

The plant sends up a stout central stem, growing upright to a height of about 2 ft., with close-set, large thick, plain leaves of a light red or purplish hue. The lower leaves are stripped off for use as the plants grow up, and used for the preparation of broth or "Scotch kail," a dish at one time in great repute in the north-eastern districts of Scotland. A very remarkable variety of open-leaved cabbage is cultivated in the Channel Islands under the name of the Jersey or branching cabbage. It grows to a height of 8 ft., but has been known to attain double that altitude. It throws out branches from the central stem, which is sufficiently firm and woody to be fashioned into walking-sticks; and the stems are even used by the islanders as rafters for bearing the thatch on their cottage-roofs. Several varieties are cultivated as ornamental plants on account of their beautifully coloured, frizzled and laciniated leaves.

Brussels sprouts (Brassica oleracea var. bullata gemmifera) are miniature cabbage-heads, about an inch in diameter, which form in the axils of the leaves. There appears to be no information as to the plant's origin, but, according to Van Mons (1765-1842), physician and chemist, it is mentioned in the year 1213, in the regulations for holding the markets of Belgium, under the name of spruyten (sprouts). It is very hardy and productive, and is much esteemed for the table on account of its flavour and its sightly appearance. The seed should be sown about the middle of March, and again in the first or second week in April for succession. Any good garden soil is suitable. For an early crop it may be sown in a warm pit in February, pricked out and hardened in frames, and planted out in a warm situation in April. The main crop may be planted in rows 2 ft. asunder, the plants 18 in. apart. They should be got out early, so as to be well established and come into use before winter. The head may be cut and used after the best of the little rosettes which feather the stem have been gathered; but, if cut too early, it exposes these rosettes, which are the most delicate portion of the produce, to injury, if the weather be severe. The earliest sprouts become fit for use in November, and they continue good, or even improve in quality, till the month of March following; by successive sowings the sprouts are obtained for the greater part of the year.

The third class is chiefly represented by the common or drumhead cabbage, Brassica oleracea var. capitata, the varieties of which are distinguished by difference in size, form and colour. In Germany it is converted into a popular article of diet under the name of Sauerkraut by placing in a tub alternate layers of salt and cabbage. An acid fermentation sets in, which after a few days is complete, when the vessel is tightly covered over and the product kept for use with animal food.

The savoy is a hardy green variety, characterized by its very wrinkled leaves. The Portugal cabbage, or Couve Tronchuda, is a variety, the tops of which form an excellent cabbage, while the midribs of the large leaves are cooked like sea-kale.

Cabbages contain a very small percentage of nitrogenous compounds as compared with most other articles of food. Their percentage composition, when cooked, is - water, 974; fat, o i; carbohydrate, o 4; mineral matter, o 1; cellulose, 1 3; nitrogenous matter (only about half being proteid), o 6. Their food value, apart from their anti-scorbutic properties, is therefore practically nil.

The cabbage requires a well-manured and well-wrought loamy soil. It should have abundant water in summer, liquid manure being specially beneficial. Round London, where it is grown in perfection, the ground for it is dug to the depth of two spades or spits, the lower portion being brought up to the action of the weather, and rendered available as food for the plants; while the top-soil, containing the eggs and larvae of many insects, being deeply buried, the plants are less liable to be attacked by the club disease. Farm-yard manure is that most suitable for the cabbage, but artificial manures such as guano, superphosphate of lime or gypsum, together with lime-rubbish, wood-ashes and marl, may, if required, be applied with advantage.

The first sowing of cabbage should be made about the beginning of March; this will be ready for use in July and August, following the autumn-sown crops. Another sowing should be made in the last week of March or first week of April, and will afford a supply from August till November; and a further crop may be made in May to supply young-hearted cabbages in the early part of winter. The autumn sowing, which is the most important, and affords the supply for spring and early summer use, should be made about the last week in August, in warm localities in the south, and about a fortnight earlier in the north; or, to meet fluctuations of climate, it is as well in both cases to anticipate this sowing by another two or three weeks earlier, planting out a portion from each, but the larger number from that sowing which promises best to stand without running to seed.

The cabbages grown late in autumn and in the beginning of winter are denominated coleworts (vulg. collards), from a kindred vegetable no longer cultivated. Two sowings are made, in the middle of June and in July, and the seedlings are planted a foot or 15 in. asunder, the rows being 8 or 10 in. apart. The sorts employed are the Rosette and the Hardy Green.

About London the large sorts, as Enfield Market, are planted for spring cabbages 2 ft. apart each way; but a plant from an earlier sowing is dibbled in between every two in the rows, and an intermediate row a foot apart is put in between the permanent rows, these extra plants being drawn as coleworts in the course of the winter. The smaller sorts of cabbage may be planted 1 2 in. apart, with 1 2 or 15 in. between the rows. The large sorts should be planted 2 ft. apart, with 22 ft. between the rows. The only culture required is to stir the surface with the hoe to destroy the weeds, and to draw up the soil round the stems. The red cabbage, Brassica oleracea var. capitata rubra, of which the Red Dutch is the most commonly grown, is much used for pickling. It is sown about the end of July, and again in March or April. The Dwarf Red and Utrecht Red are smaller sorts. The culture is in every respect the same as in the other sorts, the plants have to stand until they form hard close hearts.

Cauliflower, which is the chief representative of class 4, consists of the inflorescence of the plant modified so as to form a compact succulent white mass or head. The cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis cauliflora) is said by our old authors to have been introduced from Cyprus, where, as well as on the Mediterranean coasts, it appears to have been cultivated for ages. It is one of the most delicately flavoured of vegetables, the dense cluster formed by its incipient succulent flower-buds being the edible portion.

The sowing for the first or spring crop, to be in use in May and June, should be made from the 15th to the 25th of August for England, and from the 1st to the 15th of August for Scotland. In the neighbourhood of London the growers adhere as nearly as possible to the 21st day. A sowing to produce heads in July and August takes place in February on a slight hotbed. A late spring sowing to produce cauliflowers in September or October or later, should be made early in April and another about the 10th of May.

The cauliflower succeeds best in a rich soil and sheltered position; but, to protect the young plants in winter, they are sometimes pricked out in a warm situation at the foot of a south wall, and in severe weather covered with hoops and mats. A better method is to plant them thickly under a garden frame, securing them from cold by coverings and giving air in mild weather. For a very early supply, a few scores of plants may be potted and kept under glass during winter and planted out in spring, defended with a hand-glass. Sometimes patches of three or four plants on a south border are sheltered by hand-glasses throughout the winter. It is advantageous to prick out the spring-sown plants into some sheltered place before they are finally transplanted in May. The later crop, the transplanting of which may take place at various times, is treated like early cabbages. After planting, all that is necessary is to hoe the ground and draw up the soil about the stems.

It is found that cauliflowers ready for use in October may be kept in perfection over winter. For this purpose they are lifted carefully with the spade, keeping a ball of earth attached to the roots. Some of the large outside leaves are removed, and any points of leaves that immediately overhang the flower are cut off. They are then placed either in pots or in garden frames, the plants being arranged close together, but without touching. In mild dry weather the glass frames are drawn off, but they are kept on during rainstorms, ventilation being afforded by slightly tilting the frames, and in severe frost they are thickly covered with mats.

Broccoli is merely a variety of cauliflower, differing from the other in the form and colour of its inflorescence and its hardiness. The broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis asparagoides) succeeds best in loamy soil, somewhat firm in texture. For the autumn broccolis the ground can scarcely be too rich, but the winter and spring sorts on ground of this character are apt to become so succulent and tender that the plants suffer from frost even in sheltered situations, while plants less stimulated by manure and growing in the open field may be nearly all saved, even in severe winters. The main crops of the early sorts for use in autumn should be sown early in May, and planted out while young to prevent them coming too early into flower; in the north they may be sown a fortnight earlier. The later sorts for use during winter and spring should be sown about the middle or end of May, or about ten days earlier in the north. The seedbeds should be made in fresh light soil; and if the season be dry the ground should be well watered before sowing. If the young plants are crowding each other they should be thinned. The ground should not be dug before planting them out, as the firmer it is the better; but a shallow drill may be drawn to mark the lines. The larger-growing sorts may be put in rows 3 ft. apart, and the plants about 21 ft. apart in the rows, and the smallergrowing ones at from 2 to 21 ft. between, and 12 to 2 ft. in the rows. If the ground is not prepared when young plants are ready for removal, they should be transferred to nursery beds and planted at 3 to 4 in. apart, but the earlier they can be got into their permanent places the better.

It is of course the young flower-heads of the plant which are eaten. When these form, they should be shielded from the light by bending or breaking down an inner leaf or two. In some of the sorts the leaves naturally curve over the heads. To prevent injury to the heads by frost in severe winters, the plants should be laid in with their heads sloping towards the north, the soil being thrown back so as to cover their stems; or they may be taken up and laid in closely in deep trenches, so that none of the lower bare portion of the stem may be exposed. Some dry fern may also be laid over the tops. The spring varieties are extremely valuable, as they come at a season when the finer vegetables are scarce. They afford a supply from December to May inclusive.

Broccoli sprouts, the representative of the fifth class, are a form of recent introduction, and consist of flowering sprouts springing from the axils of the leaves. The purple-leaved variety is a very hardy and much-esteemed vegetable.

Kohl-rabi (Brassica oleracea var. caulo-rapa) is a peculiarvariety of cabbage in which the stem, just above ground, swells into a fleshy turnip-like mass. It is much cultivated in certain districts as a food for stock, for which purpose the drumhead cabbage and the thousand-headed kale are also largely used. Kohl-rabi is exceedingly hardy, withstanding both severe frosts and drought. It is not much grown in English gardens, though when used young it forms a good substitute for turnips. The seeds should be sown in May and June, and the seedlings should be planted shallowly in well-manured ground, 8 or 10 in. apart, in rows 15 in. asunder; and they should be well watered, so as to induce quick growth.

The varieties of cabbage, like other fresh vegetables, are possessed of anti-scorbutic properties; but unless eaten when very fresh and tender they are difficult of digestion, and have a very decided tendency to produce flatulence.

Although the varieties reproduce by seed with remarkable constancy, occasional departures from the types occur, more especially among the varieties of spring cabbages, cauliflowers and broccoli. The departures, known technically as "rogues," are not as a rule sufficiently numerous to materially affect crops grown for domestic purposes. Rogues appearing among the stocks of seed-growers, however, if allowed to remain, very materially affect the character of particular stocks by the dissemination of strange pollen and by the admixture of their seed. Great care is exercised by seed-growers, with reputations to maintain, to eliminate these from among their stock-plants before the flowering period is reached.

Several species of palm, from the fact of yielding large sapid central buds which are cooked as vegetables, are known as cabbagepalms. The principal of these is Areca oleracea, but other species, such as the coco-palm, the royal palm (Oreodoxa regia), Arenga saccharifera and others yield similar edible leaf-buds.

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Simple English

Brassica oleracea
Wild Cabbage plants
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Brassicales
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Brassica
Species: B. oleracea
Binomial name
Brassica oleracea

Cabbage (Brassica oleracea Capitata Group) is an edible plant. It is a lot like broccoli or Brussels sprouts. Cabbage is eaten many ways around the world. Coleslaw and sauerkraut are popular foods that use cabbage. It is also used to make kimchi and borscht. Red cabbage juice can be used as a pH indicator. Cabbage is green and red.

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