Broccoli (Brassica oleracea italica)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Broccoli
Brassica oleracea italica
Cruciferae

None known

  • Medicinal Use

    None known

  • Edible Use

    Young flowering stems and leaves – raw or cooked[33, 46]. The shoots of sprouting broccoli are harvested when about 10cm long, and before the flowers open, the shoots look somewhat like a small white or purple cauliflower and have a delicious flavour[K]. They are considered to be a gourmet vegetable. When picking the stems, make sure that you leave behind a section of the stem with leaves on it, since the plants will often produce new side shoots from the leaf axils[K].

    Calabrese and Romanesco plants produce a central inflorescence rather like a small cauliflower, which are sometimes followed by a number of smaller flowering shoots. They usually come into bearing in the late summer or autumn and are very productive if they are regularly harvested.

    Sprouting broccoli plants come into production in late winter to early spring and can be very heavy bearing over a period of two months or more so long as all the flowering stems are harvested before coming into flower.

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow sprouting broccoli in a seedbed outdoors in March to May. Plant out in June. Do not let the seedlings get overcrowded or they will soon become leggy and will not make such good plants. If your seedlings do get leggy, it is possible to plant them rather deeper into the soil – the buried stems will soon form roots and the plant will be better supported. Romanesco and calabrese are often sown in situ in the spring.
Succeeds in full sun in a well-drained fertile preferably alkaline soil[16, 200]. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.3 to 8.3. Prefers a heavy soil[16]. Succeeds in any reasonable soil[33]. Succeeds in maritime gardens[200]. Some forms are very cold-hardy, tolerating temperatures down to about -17¡c[200]. Broccoli is closely related to the cauliflowers (C. oleracea botrytis) and is often grown for its edible young flowering stems which, by careful selection of varieties, can be available almost all year round from early summer right round to late spring. There are many named varieties and these can be classified into three main groups:- Calabrese, which matures in summer and autumn, is the least cold-hardy form. It produces green, or sometimes purple, flowering heads[264]. Some forms will produce a number of side shoots once the main head has been harvested, though other forms seem unable to do this[264]. Romanesco matures in late summer and the autumn. It has numerous yellowish-green conical groups of buds arranged in spirals[264]. Given a little protection from the cold, it is possible to produce a crop throughout the winter. Unlike the other types of broccoli, romanesco seems unable to produce side shoots once the main head has been harvested[264]. Sprouting broccoli is the most cold-hardy group. It does not form a central head like the other two groups but instead produces a mass of side shoots from early spring until early summer. The more you harvest these shoots, especially if you do so before the flowers open, then the more shoots the plant produces[K]. A good companion for celery and other aromatic plants since these seem to reduce insect predations[18, 20]. Grows badly with potatoes, beet and onions[20]. Grows well with potatoes, beet and onions according to another report[201].
A cultivated form of B. oleracea.

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