Cabbage family

Botanical name:

Brassicaceae, also known as the mustard family, cruciferae or crucifers

Features of the cabbage family:

The cabbage family comprises a wide variety of cultivated plants that are important as vegetables and leafy greens, as spices and as a base for every day condiments and cooking oils.

The family is distributed globally. While particular species and cultivars of the family are best adapted to particular climates, all of them can be grown (perhaps not with optimal results but) successfully from cool to tropical climates. They germinate and grow consistently from seeds.

The most obvious feature of this plant family is the shape of the flower which has four petals and is shaped like a cross, hence the name crucifers. Most of the plants show the typical cabbage or mustard flavour.

The plants of this family have been bred to show particular properties. While some have yummy leaves, others have tender flower buds and others again tasty roots or tender swollen stems that are used. Having said that, in general every part of the species and cultivars of the cabbage family that we grow in the garden is edible. Best is to use the part the plant it is bred for, but you are free to experiment here. Worst thing that can happen to you, is that the part you use is stringy and not tender. We don’t grow cabbages that are supposed to build a head. They are not well adjusted to our warm climate and would stay loose and leafy.

Species and cultivars we grow:

Tuscan and curly kales,

daikon, French and black Spanish radishes,

kohlrabi, sprouting broccoli

mizuna, choi sum, pak choi, bok choi, tatsoi


Other common plants in this family:

Familiar species grown for food are cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, white and red cabbage, Savoy cabbage, broccoli, water cress, wombok, canola, wasabi, mustard and horseradish.

Some decorative plants like wallflowers, sweet alison, candytuft and honesty are also part of the cabbage family, as is the weed shepherd’s purse. Woad, the plant where indigo is made of, is also part of this family.