Cabbage, which consists of several other cultivars of Brassica oleracea, is a leafy biennial plant that comes in a variety of colours, like green, red or purple, and even white or pale green. This vegetable crop is grown annually for its dense leafy heads. The plant structurally comprises thick leaves in clusters, which are superimposed over another in compact layers, thus rendering a globular or round shape to the vegetable.
Facts about Brassica Oleracea
Cabbage is one of the most widely cultivated food crops across the globe. Here are some interesting facts about this leafy plant –
- Cabbage (Brassica oleracea) is derived from the species of wild cabbage (biologically named as B. oleracea var. oleracea). The crop belongs to the group of cole crops, also known as the brassicas, which means that it is closely linked to cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts & savoy cabbage.
- Fresh and green leafy cabbage is immensely nutritious. It is very low in calories and fat. You will gain just 25 calories with the consumption of every 100 grams of cabbage leaves.
- Cabbage is rich in phytochemicals such as thiocyanates, zeaxanthin, indole-3-carbinol, lutein, isothiocyanates and sulforaphane.
- Fresh cabbage is an incredible source of Vitamin C, the natural antioxidant. Per 100 gram of cabbage provides about 61% of RDA. Consuming Vitamin C regularly enables the human body to develop resistance against harmful and infectious agents.
- Cabbage is also a great source of Vitamin K, which makes up for about 63% of RDA levels. Vitamin role helps in enhancing the bone metabolism rates by promoting osteoblastic activities. Apart from improving one’s bone health, Vitamin K also acts as a good cure for Alzheimer’s patients.
- Cabbage also contains plenty of minerals including potassium, iron, manganese and magnesium. While potassium helps to control blood pressure and heart rate, iron is essential for the formation of blood cells. Manganese, on the other hand, is used by the human body as a cofactor for superoxide dismutase, an essential antioxidant enzyme.
- Green cultivars of the plant tend to have higher amounts of vitamin A than in the red cabbage cultivars.
History of Brassica
Although it is quite difficult to trace the origin of cabbage, it is believed to have been cultivated for hundreds and thousands of years. It has an extensive history with such a large variety of leafy crops classified under the same species Brassica oleracea. The wild ancestor of the plant was originally found in Britain and other regions of continental Europe. It is believed to be tolerant of salt. It was, however, not entirely resistant to the encroachments by other crops or plants. This ancient species of the Brassica oleracea class of crops were known to be the inhabitants of the rocky cliffs in the cold and damp coastal regions.
The domestication of cabbage probably happened quite later than other Near Eastern crops like summer wheat and lentils. Non-heading cabbages, as well as kale, are probably the first crops to be domesticated before 1000 BC. It is also believed that the plant was not a native to the Nile valley and was not cultivated by the ancient Egyptians. In the East, cabbage has probably been cultivated since 4000 BC, perhaps in North China. While the Greeks called it ‘krambe’, the Romans, on the other hand, used to name cabbage as ‘brassica’.
Characteristic of Brassica oleracea
All forms of the cabbage crop consist of succulent leaves, which are free of hairs. Each of the leaves has a wax-like coating, thus often giving the leaf surface a blue-green or grey-green colour. Cabbages best grow in mild to cool climatic conditions and can tolerate frost. Some of the species can even tolerate hard freezing during various growth stages. However, hot weather situations impair the growth and quality of cabbages.
- Leaves – Its leaves are open or loose foliages and are folded into compact and large terminal heads.
- Stem – Stems of cabbages are expanded to bulbous structures.
Use of Brassica oleracea
Cabbage or Brassica oleracea has been established as a significant food crop plant and has entered our day-to-day diet. The only part of a cabbage plant that is generally eaten is its leafy head. Its leaves are a massive storehouse of essential food reserves that are preserved in them over the winter.
- Raw chopped, grated or sliced fresh cabbage leaves are added to vegetable salad preparations.
- One can eat thoroughly cleaned raw cabbage leaves as it is very nutritious.
- Fresh or pickled leaves can be used as rolls for filling minced meat across various parts of the globe, including Central Europe, Asian-minor regions and Balkans.
- Cabbage is used in a type of soup preparation along with beet juice and yoghurt, a dish known as borscht, popular in the eastern European countries.
- In some countries like China and other Asian countries located in the southeastern regions also have stew with fried or boiled cabbage, onion, ginger, garlic, together with green chillies and bell pepper. People have this stew with steamed rice, mixed with soy or tomato/chilli sauce. Cabbage leaves are also added in a very well-known dish, Chowmein along with other cooked or boiled vegetables.
- In certain places like the Canary Islands and the Channel Islands, where the frost remains the minimal, cabbage plants can even grow throughout the year and can reach heights of up to 3 metres tall. Most interestingly, these ‘tree cabbages’ can yield fresh leaves year-round. The woody stalks of these plants are sometimes even dried and made into walking sticks.
- Cabbage, believed to be having antibacterial properties, is known for its extensive usage in European folk medicine for treating acute inflammation. Raw cabbage can be made into a paste, and then placed in a cabbage leaf. This is then wrapped around the inflamed area for reducing discomfort. Cabbage paste is also considered effective in reducing breast pain in breastfeeding women.
- Some cultivars of cabbage are grown as fodder for various animals.
Cabbage (Brassica oleracea) Flower Meaning
Cabbages appearing in one’s dreams are often regarded as the symbol of ambiguity and hypocrisy. If you dream of cabbage, then it is likely that you will experience a series of events that are relatively interconnected with one another, and each will require your attention. Seeing cabbages in your dreams also means that you have grown too secretive about various aspects in life, just as the cabbage leaves are wrapped within one another.
Cabbages appearing in dreams, however, can also be a good sign of profit and earnings. Dreams of harvesting cabbage, on the other hand, might also mean that you need to limit your expenses. For women, it might mean that she is or will be pregnant soon.
The crop is also considered a sign of ill omen in some dreams, probably due to its side effects. For example, dreaming of green cabbages denotes unfaithfulness to one’s partner or close friend. In Chinese symbolism, however, cabbage symbolises wealth and prosperity.
How to Care For Brassica oleracea
In order to plant a healthy cabbage plant, here’s what you must do –
- Cabbages need direct sunlight, for at least six to eight hours per day.
- Water your crop wisely at its base or soil, and keep its leaves dry. The recommended time is during the morning. Water only when the top 2 inches of the plant’s soil feels dry to touch.
- Feed your plant certain nutritious fertilisers that are specially formulated for vegetable crops.
- Use about a 3-inch layer of mulch around your plant base. It will prevent moisture from escaping.
- Check for any harmful weeds and pull them off without delay.
- Scout on the undersides of the larger cabbage leaves more frequently as pests and insects tend to hide there. Hand-pick them if you find any. If you find this too often, consider using horticulture oil or soap, like Neem oil or Neem soap.
- Protect your plant from the harsh cold weathers, especially the younger ones. If the temperature drops below 32° Fahrenheit, cover your plant with a frost cloth or bucket. However, make sure to remove it as soon as the temperature rises, such as during the daytime.