Wild cabbage (Brassica oleracea) is a biennial/perennial from the Brassicaceae or Cruciferae family. It is also known as sea cabbage or wild sea cabbage. It is very useful producing greens all year round particularly in the winter months when other plants are not available. As a wild plant, it will be far more beneficial healthwise than some of the modern hybrids currently available so is really worth growing. The photo below was taken recently and is our wild cabbage growing in heavy clay soil in our average back garden. It didn't mind the snow or frozen ground at all.
|Wild Cabbage (Brassica oleracea)|
Seeds can be purchased but they are not easy to find. Check out Ebay because they are sometimes available here. Wild cabbage can be grown like any other cabbage. Sow the seeds in the spring in pots or directly in the ground. These plants don't have to be grown half way up a cliff to thrive and actually do well in most garden soils. They are biennial and so flower and set seed in the second year. Thereafter they can more or less be left to their own devices and treated as a hardy perennial.
Raw Edible Parts
Wild cabbage can be used as a cut-and-come-again plant. The leaves and stems are edible raw but only use the younger stems as the older ones become very tough. The leaves and stems are really good for sauerkraut. The flowering heads, which look like broccoli, are also edible raw and are good for salads. The seeds, like any other cabbage, can be used for sprouting.
nb. all parts that can be eaten raw, can also be boiled or steamed. Steaming is preferable as it helps retain as many of the nutrients as possible.
Wild cabbage has grown in the British Isles for hundreds of years and is considered a native British plant. It still grows wild in some areas, particularly on the English coastline. The first evidence of the domestication of Wild cabbage is taken from the Greeks and Romans, although it is likely to have been domesticated earlier than this. It has been suggested that the Romans or Saxons brought them to Britain. Unfortunately, crops like Brassicas with their soft leaves and stems often leave very little archaeological evidence so it is difficult to be precise about their origins. Cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi and the many different modern cabbages available today have all been bred from the wild cabbage.
Crop Wild Relatives
All of the crop plants grown today for food, energy and other purposes have their origin as wild plants. These wild plants are also known a Crop Wild Relatives. One of the largest families of flowering plants in the UK, which contain Crop Wild Relatives, is the Cabbage family (Brassicaceae). Others include the Grass family (Poaceae), the Legume family (Fabaceae), the Rose family (Rosaceae) and the Carrot family (Apiaceae). The high-yielding modern crop varieties have a limited genetic variability so the Crop Wild Relatives are becoming increasingly important to increase the genetic diversity of domesticated crops.