Useful members of the Brassica (Cabbage!) Family. Part 1

Part 1 of the Brassica or Cabbage Family is an introduction to some of the members of this large family.

A more thorough account of all the members can be found in part 2 and part 3.

Family 87: the Brassica or Cabbage Family, scientifically known as the Brassicaceae, has approx 52 native genera according to Stace!

Crambe maritima or Sea kale is an impressive member of the Brassicaceae here on Chesil Beach, Dorset.

This family has a good representation on the British Isles mainly with annuals and perennials. It is easy to recognise as the former family name was Cruciferae which means the flowers always have 4 petals and 4 sepals forming a cross or crucifix. If not in flower the fruits are also a distinctive feature useful for identification.  Many have both the flowers as well as the fruit at the same time, making identification even easier!

Several improved members of this family have been in cultivation for hundreds of years for their food value especially in winter-time such as all the different cabbages and kales. Throughout the year there are vegetables available of this family from salad leaves such as Rocket, Mustard, Cress and their peppery tasting roots such as in the Turnip and Radish!

I use colour coding for easy reading! Blue background is general interesting info (although I hope you find it all interesting!!). Green is about all the uses except for medicinal uses or if there is a warning in which case I use a pink background. Pictures by Matt Summers unless stated.


Some uses of the native Brassicaceae

Draba verna (syn: Erophila verna) or Common Whitlowgrass

Cardamine pratensis or Cuckoo Flower & Lady’s Smock

Capsella bursa-pastoris or Shepard’s purse

Arabidopsis thaliana or Thale Cress

Cochlearia danica or Danish Scurvygrass

Cardamine hirsuta or Hairy Bitter-cress

Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum or Water-cress

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