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Brussels Sprouts Brassica oleracea

Phonetic Spelling
BRAS-ih-ka ol-lur-RAY-see-uh
Description

Ornamental cabbage is the wild ancestor of a group of annual cool weather vegetable plants including kale, collards, broccoli, cauliflower, and kohlrabi.  Ornamental cabbage is in the Brassicaceae (mustard) family. The genus name Brassica is Latin for cabbage, while oleracea means vegetable/herb. These plants are grown for their edible leaves. In its native habitat, it can be found growing along coastlines on rocky sea cliffs in Western Europe.  

It can grow in a wide range of conditions, however, and will perform at its best when located in full sun in nitrogen-rich, alkaline soil with good drainage. After flowering, cut out the flowering stems when the flowers show signs of forming seed pods. That will conserve the plant’s energy or resources for additional leafing up. Propagate by seed or stem cuttings. 

The foliage of ornamental cabbage is fleshier and thicker than other Brassica species. That gives it an edge in difficult growing conditions, allowing the foliage to store water and nutrients. It forms a loose head of large green or blue-green leaves that are edible.  They can be boiled or steamed until tender. 

Ornamental cabbage will grow in a container and is as at home in a meadow or pollinator garden as it is in an edible garden. It can be used in a border or a mass planting. 

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Enlargement of the thyroid gland can occur if consumed in large quantities. In locations where full sun is not provided, downy mildew can form. Some pests affecting this plant include slugs, snails, aphids, and white caterpillars.

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, and Nuts" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.   

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See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Acephala Group, Alboglabra Group, Botrytis Group, Capitata Group, Gemmifera Group, Gongylodes Group, Italica Group, Tronchuda Group
Tags:
#cultivars#edible plant#salt tolerant#showy leaves#flower arrangements#vegetable#edible leaves#short lifespan#ebh-vh#ebh#self-fertile#vhfn#vhfn-v
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Acephala Group, Alboglabra Group, Botrytis Group, Capitata Group, Gemmifera Group, Gongylodes Group, Italica Group, Tronchuda Group
Tags:
#cultivars#edible plant#salt tolerant#showy leaves#flower arrangements#vegetable#edible leaves#short lifespan#ebh-vh#ebh#self-fertile#vhfn#vhfn-v
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Brassica
    Species:
    oleracea
    Family:
    Brassicaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Biennial
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    W. Europe
    Distribution:
    Cultivars grown worldwide
    Wildlife Value:
    It serves as a host plant for butterflies, moths, flies, sawflies and beetles.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Easy to Grow
    Wildlife Larval Host
    Edibility:
    The foliage is edible raw or cooked but when cooked can emit an unpleasant odor.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 10 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Herb
    Vegetable
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Siliqua
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    The fruits dry and split when ripe.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Cross
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The flowers each have four petals and six stamens, the two outer ones being shorter than the four inner). The appear on stems each having 20-40 flowers.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Fleshy
    Waxy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Rosulate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Lobed
    Undulate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves differ in size, shape, and color depending on the cultivar. The lower leaves are stalked and fairly large with wavy margins. All, including the wild type, are thick and fleshy with a glaucous coating. Leaf stems alternate in a circle.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Covered with a powdery bloom (glaucous)
    Stem Description:
    The stem is smooth and somewhat woody.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Container
    Meadow
    Patio
    Pond
    Small Space
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Edible Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Moths
    Pollinators