21 December 2008

Today's Flowers-Colorful Flowering Cabbage

Be sure to take time to click on the link below for more photos from bloggers participating in Today's Flowers.

Found this lovely festive entry when I was out and about in Lexington today braving the cold winds and frigid temperatures. Had a good time walking about town and capturing some great shots which I will share with you all in the weeks ahead. Hope you enjoy.

Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Brassica
Species: oleracea var. acephala

Flowering Cabbage and Kale are ornamental versions of the cabbage and kale that we use as edible vegetables. They have been hybridized and selected for ornamental features including bright foliage colors and compact growth. Growing best in cool weather, the seeds are sown in the early summer and several month old plants are transplanted into the garden in the late summer or early fall. As the weather cools, the purple, pink or white colors of the leaves become quite pronounced. The plants can tolerate cold weather, and in mild winters can look attractive up until spring arrives.

The name “flowering” cabbage and kale is a misnomer since the ornamental parts of the plant we value are really just fancy leaves that superficially resemble the petals of flowers. The plants can and often will eventually produce real flowers if left in the garden. As biennials they only bloom after experiencing winter conditions after their first season of growth. Long stalks bearing small yellow flowers will develop when the weather warms in the spring. The flowers are not especially attractive and the foliage is usually quite ragged after surviving the winter. Most people remove the plants and deposit them in a compost pile long before they bloom.

The species to which flowering cabbage and kale belongs is truly fascinating. Wild Brassica oleracea is native to the coastal regions of Europe, from England to Italy, and still persists there today. The ancient Greeks and Romans grew it for food, but when it first was cultivated remains lost in history. The diversity of form within this species, that is the result of selection over the millennia by people, is almost unmatched in the plant world.

All of the following are members of Brassica oleracea:
Cabbage, Kale, Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, Kohlrabi, and Cauliflower. As different as these plants are from each other, they are just variations of the same basic form. For example, a head of cabbage is really a large terminal bud at the end of a stem, while Brussels sprouts are really side or axillary buds on a stem without a large terminal bud. Recent DNA studies have confirmed the close relationship amongst these plants, and support the plant taxonomists who have classified all these types as varieties of the same species. There are some practical applications for this knowledge of plant taxonomy. If a family member will not even try eating brussels sprouts, but enjoys cabbage or another member of this group, you can tell them with an air of authority that they are really the same species. You might even try to convince someone that kohlrabi is just another type of broccoli.


Lilly said...

What a great post. Love the photo and the text was such an interesting read.

Jan said...

A beautiful photo and informative post. Merry Christmas from California.

auringonkukka finland =) said...

beautiful photo! really wonderful Christmas!

Napaboaniya said...

A beautiful blooming cabbage flower :)

Merry Christmas to you :)

Reader Wil said...

I have never seen cabbage like that. We have red cabbage wich we eat with apples ,lemon, raisins and cinnamon. It has a dark purple colour. This photo is beautiful and the cabbage is stunning. Is it edible? Anyway: have a wonderful Christmas.

guild-rez said...

Love the flowering cabbage and information. Great picture!!
- Cheers from Canada.
Have a wonderful Christmas and happy New Year.

Arija said...

Great strong colour. Nice shot.

Tanya said...

What a beautiful burst of color! Keep warm, it's cold out there! Merry Christmas :)

fishing guy said...

What a colorful post for Christmas, may you have a wonderful season.

Thanks For 2 Day said...

A very informative post! We don't tend to eat much from this family of veggies--but I do like some of them and perhaps should try some more:)
My daughter is an equestrian and has gone to 'state fair' in Lexington several times. Of course, that's my 'only' familiarity with the area...but it is beautiful country where you are. Merry Christmas from another Virginia blogger! Jan

Fotos da Lurdes said...

Wonderful photo,and informative post.
Merry Christmas from Portugal...

MedaM said...

This flowering cabbage really looks beautiful and attractive!

louise said...

I like ornamental cabbage, but unfortunately the frost always kills mine off. The colour of your cabbage is fabulous, I would love it as a feature in my garden. x

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Wow! I had no idea!
And what a vibrant saturated with color cabbage.
Prettier than most 'regular' flowers.

~aka Rapunzle