Chinese Cabbage (Brassica rapa pekinensis)

Annual
B. campestris pekinensis. B. cernua. B. pekinensis. (Lour.)Rupr.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Chinese Cabbage
Brassica rapa pekinensis
Cruciferae

None known

  • Medicinal Use

    The leaves are depurative[218].

  • Edible Use

    Leaves – raw or cooked[116, 160, 171]. A crisp, watery texture with a naturally sweet taste, it is best eaten raw in salads[116, 206]. The plant can be eaten as a young seedling, or left to grow into a mature plant[206]. The flavour is quickly ruined by prolonged cooking[206]. Leaves can also be dried for winter use[206]. The heads of mature plants can be 50cm long and weigh up to 4.5 kg[200, 206]. Fresh leaves do not store well and are best used within a day or two of harvesting[206]. A nutritional analysis is available[218].

    Flowering shoots – raw or cooked[206]. Sweet and tender[133].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – it can be sown from late May to September in situ[206]. The spring sown crops often run to seed very quickly but ‘barrel’ types can be sown at this time. If seedlings are germinated at a temperature of 18 – 20¡c and then grown on at this temperature for their first few weeks, they are then less likely to bolt[206]. Seed usually germinates within 3 – 4 days[206]. A late summer sowing under protection can provide leaves in the winter[206]. Seedlings can be transplanted when about 3 – 4 weeks old[206].
Succeeds in a well-drained fertile preferably alkaline soil[16, 52, 200]. Succeeds in acid and alkaline soils[166, 200]. Prefers a pH in the range 6.5 to 7[206]. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.3 to 6.8. Prefers a heavy soil[16] and grows badly in sandy ones[200]. Prefers full sun[200, 206] and a sheltered position[206]. Likes some shade[16]. Drought resistant according to one report[160], whilst another says that the plants are shallow-rooted and have very little resistance to drought[206]. They require about 5 gallons of water from sowing to maturity[206]. Plants are not fully winter hardy in Britain, though mature plants withstand light frosts to about -3¡c[160, 206]. Plants prefer coolish weather during their growing season, a temperature range of 13 – 20¡c is ideal[206]. The Chinese cabbage is widely cultivated, especially in China and Japan, for its edible leaves[88]. It looks like a large cos lettuce or cabbage and has a crisp, watery texture with a mustard-like taste[264]. There are many named varieties[88, 206]. Those forms with loose heads were developed for areas with hotter summers, whilst compact-headed forms were developed for cooler areas[206]. The loose-headed forms are less prone to bolt, are more resistant to cold and are more disease-resistant[206]. An annual to biennial species, it is normally grown as an annual[206]. Plants take from 55 – 100 days from sowing to maturity, depending on variety, the loose-headed forms are usually 2 – 3 weeks faster than compact-headed forms[206]. Plants do not like root disturbance so should not be transplanted unless grown in individual pots[206]. Plants are highly resistant to fungus attacks and the cabbage moth[160], they are also slow to bolt in hot weather[160]. Some cultivars are more resistant to bolting when sown in spring than other forms[206]. There is some evidence that interplanting this species with dill and garlic can lessen the attacks of caterpillars[206]. A good bee plant[108].
A cultivar of garden origin.

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*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.