- Major entries:
- Brassica oleracea acephala DC. Borecole. Cole. Colewort. Kale.
- Brassica oleracea botrytis cymosa DC. Broccoli.
- Brassica oleracea bullata gemmifera DC. Brussels Sprouts.
- Brassica oleracea bullata major DC. Savoy Cabbage.
- Brassica oleracea capitata DC. Cabbage.
- Brassica oleracea capitata rubra DC. Red Cabbage.
- Brassica oleracea caulo-rapa communis DC. Kohl-Rabi.
- Brassica oleracea costata oblonga DC. Portugal Cabbage.
The chief characteristics of this species of Brassica are that the plants are open, not heading like the cabbages, nor producing eatable flowers like the cauliflowers and broccoli. The species has every appearance of being one of the early removes from the original species and is cultivated in many varieties known as kale, greens, sprouts, curlico, with also some distinguishing prefixes as Buda kale, German greens. Some are grown as ornamental plants, being variously curled, laciniated and of beautiful colors. In 1661, Ray journeyed into Scotland and says of the people that "they use much pottage made of coal-wort which they call keal." It is probable that this was the form of cabbage known to the ancients.
The kales represent an extremely variable class of vegetable and have been under cultivation from a most remote period. What the varieties of cabbage were that were known to the ancient Greeks it seems impossible to determine in all cases, but we can hardly question but that some of them belonged to the kales. Many varieties were known to the Romans. Cato, who lived about 201 B. C., describes the Brassica as: the levis, large broad-leaves, large-stalked; the crispa or apiacan; the lenis, small-stalked, tender, but rather sharp-tasting. Pliny, in the first century, describes the Cumana, with sessile leaf and open head; the Aricinum, not excelled in height, the leaves numerous and thick; the Pompeianum, tall, the stalk thin at the base, thickening along the leaves; the brutiana, with very large leaves, thin stalk, sharp savored; the sabellica, admired for its curled leaves, whose thickness exceeds that of the stalk, of very sweet savor; the Lacuturres, very large headed, innumerable leaves, the head round, the leaves fleshy; the Tritianom, often a foot in diameter and late in going to seed. The first American mention of coleworts is by Sprigley, 1669, for Virginia but this class of the cabbage tribe is probably the one mentioned by Benzoni as growing in Hayti in 1565. In 1806, McMahon recommends for American gardens the green and the brown Aypres and mentions the Red and Thick-leaved Curled, the Siberian, the Scotch and especially recommends Jerusalem kale.
The form of kale known in France as the chevalier seems to have been the longest known and we may surmise that its names of chou caulier and caulet have reference to the period when the word caulis, a stalk, had a generic meaning applying to the cabbage race in general. We may hence surmise that this was the common form in ancient times, in like manner as coles or coleworts in more modern times imply the cultivation of kales. This word coles or caulis is used in the generic sense, for illustration, by Cato, 200 years B. C.; by Columella the first century A. D.; by Palladius in the third; by Vegetius in the fourth century A. D.; and Albertus Magnus in the thirteenth. This race of chevaliers may be quite reasonably supposed to be the levis of Cato, sometimes called caulodes.
According to De Candolle, this race of chevaliers has five principal sub-races, of which the following is an incomplete synonymy:
- Brassica laevis. Cam. Epit. 248. 1586; Matth. Op. 366. 1598.
- Br. vulgaris sativa. Ger. 244. 1597.
- Cavalier branchu. DeCand. Mem. 9. 1821.
- Thousand-headed. Burr 236. 1863.
- Chou branchu du Poitou. Vilm. 135. 1883.
- Chou mille teles. Vilrn. 1. c.
- II. a. viridis.
- Kol. Roeszl. 87. 1550. Brassica. Trag. 720. 1552.
- Brassica alba vulgaris. Bauh. J. 2:829. 1651.
- Chou vert commun. DeCand. Mem. 9. 1821.
- Cow Cabbage. Burr 232. 1863.
- Chou cavalier. Vilm. 134. 1883.
- Brassica vulgaris alba. Chabr. 290. 1677.
- II. b. rubra.
- Brassica primum genus. Fuch. 413. 1542.
- Br. rubra prima species. Dalechamp 523. 1587.
- Br. rubra. Ger. 244. 1597.
- Br. rubra vulgaris. Bauh. J. 2:831. 1651; Chabr. 270. 1877.
- Red cavalier. De Cand. Mem. 9. 1821.
- Flanders kale. Burr 233. 1863.
- Caulet de Flander. Vilrn. 134. 1883.
- Brassica vulgaris sativa. Lob. Obs. 122. 1576; Icon. 1:243. 1591; D
- Br. alba vulgaris. Dalechamp 520. 1587.
- Brassica. Dur. C. 76. 1817.
- Chou a feuilles de Chene. De Cand. Mem. 10. 1821.
- Buda kale. Vilm. 141. 1885.
- IV. a.
- Brassica secundum genus. Fuch. 414. 1542.
- Br. fimbriata. Lob. Obs. 124. 1576; Icon. 247. 1591.
- Br. sativa crispa. Ger. 244. 1597.
- Br. crispa. Dod. 622. 1616.
- Br. crispa lacinosa. Bauh. J. 2:832. 1651.
- Chou vert frise. De Cand. Mem. 10. 1821.
- Tall Green Curled. Burr 236. 1863.
- Chou frise vert grand. Vilm. 131. 1883.
- IV. b.
- Brassica crispa, seu apiana. Trag. 721. 1552.
- Br. crispa Tragi. Dalechamp 524. 1587.
- Br. tenuifolia laciniata. Lob. Icon. 1:246. 1591.
- Br. selenoides. Dod. 622. 1616.
- Br. tenuissima laciniata. Bauh. J. 2:832. 1651.
- Br. selenoides. Ger. 248. 1597.
- Chou plume ou Chou aigrettegardens.. De Cand. Mem. n. 1821. Ornamental kales of our
- Brassica tophosa. Ger. 246. 1547; Bauh. J. 2:830. 1651.
- Br. tophosa Tabernemontano. Chabr. 270. 1677.
- Chou palmier. De Cand. Mem. n. 1821; Vilm. 133. 1883.
These forms occur in many varieties, differing in degree only, and of various colors, even variegated. In addition to the above we may mention the proliferous kales, which also occur in several varieties. The following synonyms refer to proliferation only, as the plants in other respects are not similar:—
- Brassica asparagoides Dalechampii. Dalechamp 522. 1587.
- Brassica prolifera. Ger. 245. 1597.
- Brassica prolifera crispa. Ger. 245. 1597.
- Cockscomb kale. Burr 232. 1863.
- Chou frise prolifere. Vilm. 133. 1883.
The Dwarf Kales.
De Candolle does not bring these into his classification as offering true types, and in this perhaps he is right. Yet, olericulturally considered, they are quite distinct. There are but few varieties. The best marked is the Dwarf Curled, the leaves falling over in a graceful curve and reaching to the ground. This kale can be traced through variations and varieties to our first class, and hence it has probably been derived in recent times through a process of selection, or through the preservation of a natural variation. There is an intermediate type between the Dwarf Curled and the Tall Curled forms in the intermediate Moss Curled.
The Portugal Kales.
Two kales have the extensive rib system and the general aspect of the Portugal cabbage. These are the chou brocoli and the chou frise de mosbach of Vilmorin. These bear the same relation to Portugal cabbage that common kale bears to the heading cabbages.
The differences between the most highly improved varieties of the broccoli and the cauliflower are very slight; in the less changed forms they become great. Hence two races can be defined, the sprouting broccolis and the cauliflower broccolis. The growth of the broccoli is far more prolonged than that of the cauliflower, and in the European countries it bears its heads the year following that in which it is sown. It is this circumstance that leads us to suspect that the Romans knew the plant and described it under the name cyma—"Cyma a prima sectione praestat proximo vere." "Ex omnibus brassicae generibus suavissima est cyma," says Pliny. He also uses the word cyma for the seed stalk which rises from the heading cabbage. These excerpts indicate the sprouting broccoli, and the addition of the word cyma then, as exists in Italy now, with the word broccoli is used for a secondary meaning, for the tender shoots which at the close of winter are emitted by various kinds of cabbages and turnips preparing to flower.
It is certainly very curious that the early botanists did not describe or figure broccoli. The omission is only explainable under the supposition that it was confounded with the cauliflower, just as Linnaeus brought the cauliflower and the broccoli into one botanical variety. The first notice of broccoli is quoted from Miller's Dictionary, edition of 1724, in which he says it was a stranger in England until within these five years and was called "sprout colli-flower," or Italian asparagus. In 1729, Switzer says there are several kinds that he has had growing in his garden near London these two years: "that with small, whitish-yellow flowers like the cauliflower; others like the common sprouts and flowers of a colewort; a third with purple flowers; all of which come mixed together, none of them being as yet (at least that I know of) ever sav'd separate." In 1778, Mawe, names the Early Purple, Late Purple, White or Cauliflower-broccoli and the Black. In 1806, McMahon mentions the Roman or Purple, the Neapolitan or White, the Green and the Black. In 1821, Thorbum names the Cape, the White and the Purple, and, in 1828, in his seed list, mentions the Early White, Early Purple, the Large Purple Cape and the White Cape or Cauliflower-broccoli.
The first and third kind of Switzer, 1729, are doubtless the heading broccoli, while the second is probably the sprouting form. These came from Italy and as the seed came mixed, we may assume that varietal distinctions had not as yet become recognized, and that hence all the types of the broccoli now grown have originated from Italy. It is interesting to note, however, that at the Cirencester Agricultural College, about 1860, sorts of broccoli were produced, with other variables, from the seed of wild cabbage.
Vilmorin says: "The sprouting or asparagus broccoli, represents the first form exhibited by the new vegetable when it ceased to be the earliest cabbage and was grown with an especial view to its shoots; after this, by continued selection and successive improvements, varieties were obtained which produced a compact, white head, and some of these varieties were still further improved into kinds which are sufficiently early to commence and complete their entire growth in the course of the same year; these last named kinds are now known as cauliflowers."
This vegetable, in this country, grown only in the gardens of amateurs, yet deserving more esteem, has for a type-form a cabbage with an elongated stalk, bearing groups of leaf-buds in the axils of the leaves. Sometimes occurring as a monstrosity, branches instead of heads are developed. Quite frequently an early cabbage, after the true head is removed, will develop small cabbages in the leaf-axils, and thus is formed the Brassica capitata polycephalos of Dalechamp, 1587, which he himself describes as a certain unused and rare kind.
Authors have stated that brussels sprouts have been grown from time immemorial about Brussels, in Belgium; but, if this be so, it is strange that they escaped the notice of the early botanists, who would have certainly noticed a common plant of such striking appearance and have given a figure. Bauhin, indeed, 1623, gives the name Brassica ex capitibus pluribus conglobata, and adds that some plants bear 50 heads the size of an egg, but his reference to Dalechamp would lead us to infer that the plant known to him was of the same character as that figured by Dalechamp above noted. Lobel, 1655, refers to a cabbage like a Brassica polycephalos, but, as he had not seen it, he says he will affirm nothing. Ray, 1686, refers to a like cabbage.
A. P. De Candolle, 1821, describes brussels sprouts as commonly cultivated in Belgium and implies its general use in French gardens, but Booth says it is only since about 1854 that it has been generally known in England. A correspondent of the Gardeners' Chronicle, 1850, however, refers to the tall sorts as generally preferred to the dwarf by the market gardeners about London. In American gardens, it is mentioned in 1806 and this implies its general use in Europe.
But two classes are known, the tall and the dwarf, and but a few minor variations in these classes. The tall is quite distinct in habit and leaf from the dwarf, the former having less crowded sprouts and a more open character of plant, with leaves scarcely blistered or puckered. As, however, there is considerable variation to be noted in seedlings, furnishing connecting links, the two forms may legitimately be considered as one, the difference being no greater than would be explained by the observed power of selection and of the influence for modification which might arise from the influence of cabbage pollen. This fact of their being of but one type, even if with several variables, would seem to indicate a probability that the origin is to be sought for in a sport, and that our present forms have been derived from a suddenly observed variable of the Savoy cabbage type and, as the lack of early mention and the recent nature of modern mention presupposes, at some time scarcely preceding the last century.
Allied to this class is the Tree cabbage, or Jersey cabbage, which attains an extreme height of 16 feet, bearing a comparatively small, open cabbage on the summit, the Thousand-headed cabbage, the Poiton cabbage, and the Marrow cabbage, the stems of which last are succulent enough to be boiled for food. In 1806, McMahon describes brussels sprouts, but he does not include them in his list of American garden esculents so they were not at that time in very general use. Fessenden, 1828, mentions the Thousand-headed cabbage but it does not seem to have been known to him personally. Thorbum, in his catalog for 1828, offers its seed for sale, but one variety only, and in 1881, two varieties.
This race of cabbage is distinguished by the blistered surface of its leaves and by the formation of a loose or little compacted head. Probably the heading cabbages of the ancient Romans belong to this class, as, in their descriptions, there are no indications of a firm head, and at a later period this form is named as if distinctly Roman. Thus, Ruellius, 1536, describes under the name romanos a loose-heading sort of cabbage but does not describe it particularly as a Savoy. This sort probably is the Brassica italica tenerrima glomerosa flore albo figured by J. Bauhin, 1651, its origin, judging from the name, being ascribed to Italy; it is also figured by Chabraeus, 1677, under the same name and with the additional names of Chou d'ltalie and Chou de Savoys. In the Adversaria and elsewhere, this kind is described as tender and as not extending to northern climates. This form, so carefully pictured as existing under culture, has doubtless been superseded by better varieties. It has been cultivated in English gardens for three centuries. In 1806, McMahon mentions three savoys for American gardens. In 1828, Thorbum offers in his catalog seeds of five varieties and in 1881 offers seed of but three.
Few plants exhibit so many forms in its variations from the original type as cabbage. No kitchen garden in Europe or America is without it and it is distributed over the greater part of Asia and, in fact, over most of the world. The original plant occurs wild at the present day on the steep, chalk rocks of the sea province of England, on the coast of Denmark and northwestern France and, Lindley says, from Greece to Great Britain in numerous localities. At Dover, England, wild cabbage varies considerably in its foliage and general appearance and in its wild state is used as a culinary vegetable and is of excellent flavor. This wild cabbage is undoubtedly the original of our cultivated varieties, as experiments at the garden of the Royal Agricultural College and at Cirencester resulted in the production of sorts of broccoli, cabbages and greens from wild plants gathered from rocks overhanging the sea in Wales. Lindley groups the leading variations as follows: If the race is vigorous, long jointed and has little tendency to turn its leaves inwards, it forms what are called open cabbages (the kales); if the growth is stunted, the joints short and the leaves inclined to turn inwards, it becomes the heart cabbages; if both these tendencies give way to a preternatural formation of flowers, the cauliflowers are the result. If the stems swell out into a globular form, we have the turnip-rooted cabbages. Other species of Brassica, very nearly allied to B. oleracea Linn., such as B. balearica Richl., B. insularis Moris, and B. cretica Lam., belong to the Mediterranean flora and some botanists suggest that some of these species, likewise introduced into the gardens and established as cultivated plants, may have mixed with each other and thus have assisted in, giving rise to some of the many races cultivated at the present day.
The ancient Greeks held cabbage in high esteem and their fables deduce its origin from the father of their gods; for, they inform us that Jupiter, laboring to explain two oracles which contradicted each other, perspired and from this divine perspiration the colewort sprung. Dioscorides mentions two kinds of coleworts, the cultivated and the wild. Theophrastus names the curled cole, the swath cole and the wild cole. The Egyptians are said to have worshipped cabbage, and the Greeks and Romans ascribed to it the happy quality of preserving from drunkenness. Pliny mentions it. Cato describes one kind as smooth, great, broadleaved, with a big stalk, the second ruffed, the third with little stalks, tender and very much biting. Regnier says cabbages were cultivated by the ancient Celts.
Cabbage is one of the most generally cultivated of the vegetables of temperate climates. It grows in Sweden as far north as 67° to 68°. The introduction of cabbage into European gardens is usually ascribed to the Romans, but Olivier de Serres says the art of making them head was unknown in France in the ninth century. Disraeli says that Sir Anthony Ashley of Dorsetshire first planted cabbages in England, and a cabbage at his feet appears on his monument; before his time they were brought from Holland. Cabbage is said to have been scarcely known in Scotland until the time of the Commonwealth, 1649, when it was carried there by some of Cromwell's soldiers. Cabbage was introduced into America at an early period. In 1540, Cartier in his third voyage to Canada, sowed cabbages. Cabbages are mentioned by Benzoni as growing in Hayti in 1556; by Shrigley, in Virginia in 1669; but are not mentioned especially by Jefferson in 1781. Romans found them in Florida in 1775 and even cultivated by the Choctaw Indians. They were seen by Nieuhoff in Brazil in 1647. In 1779, cabbages are mentioned among the Indian crops about Geneva, New York, destroyed by Gen. Sullivan in his expedition of reprisal. In 1806, McMahon mentions for American gardens seven early and six late sorts. In 1828, Thorbum offered 18 varieties in his seed catalog and in 1881, 19. In 1869, Gregory tested 60 named varieties in his experimental garden and in 1875 Landreth tested 51.
The headed cabbage in its perfection of growth and its multitude of varieties, bears every evidence of being of ancient origin. It does not appear, however, to have been known to Dioscorides, or to Theophrastus or Cato, but a few centuries later the presence of cabbage is indicated by Columella and Pliny, who, of his variety, speaks of the head being sometimes a foot in diameter and going to seed the latest of all the sorts known to him. The descriptions are, however, obscure, and we may well believe that if the hard-headed varieties now known had been seen in Rome at this time they would have received mention. Olivier de Serres says: "White cabbages came from the north, and the art of making them head was unknown in the time of Charlemagne." Albertus Magnus, who lived in the twelfth century, seems to refer to a headed cabbage in his Caputium, but there is no description. The first unmistakable reference to cabbage is by Ruellius, 1536, who calls them capucos coles, or cabutos and describes the head as globular and often very large, even a foot and a half in diameter. Yet the word cabaches and caboches, used in England in the fourteenth century, indicates cabbage was then known and was distinguished from coles. Ruellius, also, describes a loose-headed form called romanos, and this name and description, when we consider the difficulty of heading cabbages in a warm climate, would lead us to believe that the Roman varieties were not our present solid-heading type but loose-headed and perhaps of the savoy class.
Our present cabbages are divided by De Candolle into five types or races: the flat-headed, the round-headed, the egg-shaped, the elliptic and the conical. Within each class are many sub-varieties. In Vilmorin's Les Plantes Potageres, 1883, 57 kinds are described, and others are mentioned by name. In the Report of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station for 1886, 70 varieties are described, excluding synonyms. In both cases the savoys are treated as a separate class and are not included. The histories of De Candolle's forms are as follows:
Type, Quintal. The first appearance of this form is in Pancovius Herbarium, 1673, No. 612. A Common Flatwinter, probably this form, is mentioned by Wheeler, 1763; the Flat-topped is described by Mawe, 1778. The varieties that are now esteemed are remarkably flat and solid.
Type, Early Dutch Drumhead. This appears to be the earliest form, as it is the only kind figured in early botanies and was hence presumably the only, or, perhaps, the principal sort known during several centuries. The following synonymy is taken from drawings only and hence there can be no mistake in regard to the type:
- Brassicae quartum genus. Fuch. 416. 1542.
- Kappiskraut. Roeszl. 87. 1550.
- Caulis capitulatis. Trag. 717. 1552.
- Brassica capitata. Matth. 247. 1558; Pin. 163. 1561; Cam. Epit. 250. 1586.
- Kol oder Kabiskraut. Pict. 90. 1581.
- Brassica alba sessilis glomerata, ant capitata Lactucae habitu. Lobel Icon. 1:243. 1591.
- Brassica capitata albida. Dalechamp 1:521. 1587; Dod. Pempt. 623. 1616.
- Brassica capuccia. Dur. C. 78. 1617.
- Brassica capitata alba. Bod. 777. 1644; Bauh. J. 1:826. 1651; Chabr. 269. 1677.
The descriptive synonymy includes the losed cabbage, a great round cabbage of Lyte's Dodoens, 1586; the White Cabbage Cole of Gerarde, 1597; the White Cabbage of Ray, 1686; the chou pomme blanc of Tournefort, 1719; the English of Townsend, 1726; the Common White of Wheeler, 1763; the English or Late, of Stevenson, 1765; the Common Round White of Mawe, 1778.
Type, the Sugar-loaf. Vilmorin remarks of this variety, the Sugar-loaf, that, although a very old variety and well known in every country in Europe, it does not appear to be extensively grown anywhere. It is called chou chicon in France and bundee kobee in India. It is mentioned by name by Townsend, 1726; by Wheeler, 1763; by Stevenson, 1765; and by Mawe, 1778. Perhaps the Large-sided cabbage of Worlidge and the Long-sided cabbage of Quintyne belong to this division.
Type, Early York. This is first mentioned by Stevenson, 1765, and he refers to it as a well-known sort. According to Burr, it came originally from Flanders. There are now many varieties of this class.
Type, Filderkraut. This race is described by Lamarck, 1783, and, if there is any constancy between the name and the variety during long periods, is found in the Battersea, named by Townsend in 1726 and by a whole line of succeeding writers.
It is certainly very singular that but one of these races of cabbage received the notice of the older botanists (excepting the one flat-topped given by Chabraeus, 1677), as their characteristics are extremely well marked and form extreme contrasts between the conical, or pointed, and the spherical-headed. We must, hence, believe that they either originated or came into use in a recent period. How they came and whence they came, must be decided from a special study, in which the effect of hybridization may become a feature. From the study of sports that occasionally appear in the garden, the suggestion may be offered that at least some of these races have been derived from crossings with some form of the Chinese cabbage, whereby form has become transferred while the other characteristics of the Chinese species have disappeared. On the other hand. the savoy class, believed to have origin from the same source as the cabbage, has oval or oblong heads, which have been noted by the herbalists.
It is very remarkable, says Unger, that the European and Asiatic names used for different species of cabbage may all be referred to four roots. The names kopf kohl (German), cabus (French), cabbage (English), kappes, kraut, kapost, kaposta, kapsta (Tartar), kopee (Beng.), kopi (Hindu), have a manifest relation to the Celto-Slavic root cap or kap, which in Celtic means head. Brassica of Pliny is derived from the Celtic, bresic cabbage. The Celto-Germanico-Greek root caul may be detected in the word kaol, the Grecian kaulion of Theophrastus, the Latin caulis; also in the words caulx, cavolo, coan, kohl, kale, kaal (Norwegian), kohl (Swedish), col (Spanish), kelum (Persian); finally, the Greco-Germanic root cramb, krambe, passes into krumb, karumb of the Arabians. The want of a Sanscrit name shows that the cabbage tribe first found its way at a later period to India and China. This tribe is not mentioned as in Japan by Thunberg, 1775.
This is a very distinct and probably a very ancient kind of a peculiar purple color and solid heading. It is cultivated in a number of varieties and in 1854 the seed of Red Savoy was distributed from the United States Patent Office. One variety is mentioned for American gardens by McMahon, 1806, and one variety only by Thorbum, 1828 and 1881, but several distinct sorts can now be obtained from seedsmen. Burr, 1863, describes three reds and one so deeply colored as to be called black.
The first certain mention of this cabbage is in 1570, in Pena and Lobel's Adversarial and figures are given by Gerarde, 1597, Matthiolus, 1598, Dodonaeus, 1616, and J. Bauhin, 1651. These figures are all of the spherical-headed type. In 1638, Ray notices the variability in the colors upon which a number of our seedsmen's varieties are founded. The oblong or the pointed-headed types which now occur cannot be traced. The solidity of the head and the perfectness of the form in this class of cabbage indicate long culture and a remote origin. In England, they have never attained much standing for general use, and, as in this country, are principally grown for pickling.
Collards Or Colewort.
As grown in the United States, collards, or colewort, are sowings of an early variety of cabbage in rows about one foot apart to be cut for use as a spinach when about six or eight inches high. Other directions for culture are to sow seeds as for cabbage in June, July and August for succession, transplant when one month old in rows a foot apart each way, and hoe frequently. The collard plants are kept for sale by seedsmen, rather than the cabbage seed under this name. In the Southern States, collards are extensively grown and used for greens and after frost the flavor is esteemed delicious.
This is a dwarf-growing plant with the stem swelled out so as to resemble a turnip above ground. There is no certain identification of this race in ancient writings. The bunidia of Pliny seems rather to be the rutabaga, as he says it is between a radish and a rape. The gorgylis of Theophrastus and Galen seems also to be the rutabaga, for Galen says the root contained within the earth is hard unless cooked. In 1554, Matthiolus speaks of the kohl-rabi as having lately come into Italy. Between 1573 and 1575, Rauwolf saw it in the gardens of Tripoli and Aleppo. Lobel, 1570, Camerarius, 1586, Dalechamp, 1587, and other of the older botanists figure or describe it as under European culture.
Kohl-rabi, in the view of some writers, is a cross between cabbage and rape, and many of the names applied to it convey this idea. This view is probably a mistaken one, as the plant in its sportings under culture tends to the form of the Marrow cabbage, from which it is probably a derivation. In 1884, two kohl-rabi plants were growing in pots in the greenhouse at the New York Agricultural Experiment Station; one of these extended itself until it became a Marrow cabbage and when planted out in the spring attained its growth as a Marrow cabbage. This idea of its origin finds countenance in the figures of the older botanists; thus, Camerarius, 1586, figures a plant as a kohl-rabi which in all essential points resembles a Marrow cabbage, tapering from a small stem into a long kohl-rabi, with a flat top like the Marrow cabbage. The figures given by Lobel, 1591, Dodonaeus, 1616, and Bodaeus, 1644, when compared with Camerarius' figure, suggest the Marrow cabbage. A long, highly improved form, not now under culture, is figured by Gerarde, 1597, J. Bauhin, 1651, and Chabraeus, 1677, and the modern form is given by Gerarde and by Matthiolus, 1598. A very unimproved form, out of harmony with the other figures, is given by Dalechamp, 1587, and Castor Durante, 1617. The synonymy can be tabulated as below:
- Caulorapum. Cap. Epit. 251. 1586.
- Rapa Br. peregrine, caule rapum gerens. Lob. Icon. 246. 1591.
- Br. caule rapum gerens. Dod. Pempt. 625. 1616.
- Rapa brassica. Bodaus 777. 1644.
- Caulo rapum longum. Ger. 250. 1597.
- Br. caulorapa. Bauh. J. 2:830. 1651.
- Br. caulorapa sive Rapo caulis. Chabr. 270. 1677.
- Caulorapum rotundum. Ger. 250. 1597.
- Brassica gongylodes. Matth. Opera 367. 1598.
- Brassica raposa. Dalechamp 522. 1587.
- Bradica raposa. Dur. C. 1617. app.
Matthiolus, as we have stated, says the plant came into Germany from Italy; Pena and Lobel say it came from Greece; Gerarde, that it grows in Italy, Spain and Germany, whence he received seeds. This plant was an inmate of the Old Physic Garden in Edinburgh before 1683. In 1734, it was first brought into field culture in Ireland; in Scotland in 1805; and in England in 1837. In the United States, it was mentioned by McMahon, 1806. Fessenden, 1828, names two varieties, one the above-ground and the other the below-ground turnip-rooted. Darwin speaks of the recently formed new race, already including nine subvarieties, in which the enlarged part lies beneath the ground like a turnip. Two varieties are used in France in ornamental gardening, the leaves being cut and frizzled, and the artichoke-leaved variety is greatly prized for decoration by confectioners. These excerpts indicate a southern origin, for this vegetable and the Marrow cabbage are very sensitive to cold. The more highly improved forms, as figured in our synonymy, are in authors of northern or central Europe, while the unimproved forms are given by more southern writers. This indicates that the present kohl-rabi received its development in northern countries. The varieties now grown are the White and Purple, in early and late forms, the Curled-leaf, or Neapolitan, and the Artichoke-leaved.
This cabbage is easily recognizable through the great expansion of the midribs and veins of the leaf, in some cases forming quite half of the leaf, the midrib losing its identity in the multitude of radiating, branching veins. In some plants the petioles are winged clear to the base. Nearly all the names applied to this form indicate its distribution, at least in late years, from Portugal, whence it reached English gardens about 1821 and American gardens, under the name of Portugal Cabbage, about 1850. It should be remarked, however, that a chou a la grosse cote was in French gardens in 1612 and in three varieties in 1824.
This cabbage varies in a direction parallel to that of the common cabbage, or has forms which can be classed with the kales and the heading cabbages of at least two types.
The peculiarity of the ribs or veins occasionally appears among the variables from the seed of the common cabbage, hence atavism as the result of a cross can be reasonably inferred. As to the origin of this form, opinion, at the present stage of studies, must be largely speculative but we may reasonably believe that it originated from a different form or a different set of hybridizations than did the common cabbage. The synonymy appears to be:
- Choux a la grosse cote. Jard. Solit. 1612.
- Chou blond aux grosses cotes. Bosc. Diet. 4, 43. 1789.
- Brassica oleracea aceppala costata. DC. Syst. 2:584. 1821.
- B. oleracea costata. DC. Trans. Hort. Soc. Lond. M. 5:12. 1824.
- Chou aux grosses cotes. Vilm. 1883.
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World, 1919, was edited by U. P. Hedrick.