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from Cyclopedia of American Horticulture 1902

Figure 258

BRASSICA (old classical name). Cruciferoe. Probably 100 species of annual, biennial and perennial herbs, natives of temperate regions of Europe, Africa, and Asia. Petals and stamens 4: pod long, beaked: seeds not winged (Figs. 258, 259). Includes all the mustards, cabbages, turnips and the like; and to these plants the reader should refer for other information.

Figure 259

In common with nearly all cultivated plants, especially those which are perplexing, the Brassicas have received too little attention from botanists. The inevitable outcome of such neglect or of any superficial study is a reduction of species, and in this direction Brassica has suffered greatly. It is usually confusing to reduce types. The most perplexing species in our manuals are those which contain the greatest number of old types or synonymous names. It is true that this is supposed to be primarily due to the variation of the species or groups, but it is often to be charged to superficial study or insufficient material. Our manuals contain too few rather than too many species of Brassica; at all events, the miscellaneous dumping of rutabagas, turnips, rape and other plants into Brassica campestris is unnatural, and, therefore, unfortunate. One of the best presentations of the true Brassicas is that of De Candolle’s Prodromus, as long ago as 1824 and the following scheme closely follows that outline. Some of the forms which are here kept separate as species may be derived from their fellow, but the evidence of such origin is lost and perspicuity demands that they be kept distinct in a horticultural treatise.

The confusion into which our Brassicas have fallen is in some measure due to the different vernacular names which they bear in different countries. The French use the word chou generically to include all forms of B. oleracea and the rutabaga – that is, all the blue, thick-leaved Brassicas – while in England the rutabaga is called the Swedish Turnip. A tabular view of the different vernaculars may be useful:

Chou CabusCabbageCabbage
Chou de MilanSavoySavoy Cabbage
Chou de BruxellesBrussels SproutsBrussels Sprouts
Choux-vertsBorecole or KaleBorecole or Kale
Chou-raveTurnip Cabbage or KohlrabiKohlrabi
Chou-mavetTurnip-rooted Cabbage or Swedish TurnipRutabaga
Navet (or Chou-navet)TurnipTurnip

A. Whole plant glaucous-blue when in flower: lvs. Of the flower-stems clasping: fls. Various (Brassica proper.)

B. Lvs. From the first more or less fleshy throughout, and glaucous-blue even when young: fls. Large and creamy yellow, the petals conspicuously longclawed, and the sepals usually erect.

Figure 260

oleracea, Linn. CABBAGE, CAULIFLOWER, BRUSSELS, SPROUTS, KALE. Fig. 260. Lvs. smooth from the first and the root never tuberous. Sea shores of the Old World, and naturally perennial.

Napus, Linn. RAPE. Lvs. Smooth from the first; differing from B. oleracea chiefly in habit and more deeply scalloped lvs. The botanical position of the Rapes is open to doubt.

Figure 261

campestris, Linn. RUTABAGA. Fig. 261. First lvs. hairy, the root usually tuberous.

BB. Lvs. (except upon the flower-stem) thin and green: fls. Smaller and bright yellow, less prominently clawed.

C. Plant potentially biennial (that is, the root hard and thickened, often distinctly tuberous): foliage firm in texture.

D. Foliage distinctly hairy.

Rapa, Linn. COMMON TURNIP. Lvs. prominently lyrate or interrupted below, the root tuberous. Whatever the origin of the Rutabaga and Turnip may be, the two plants show good botanical characters. The tubers of the two are different in season, texture and flavor. In the Rutabaga, the small leaves immediately following the seed-leaves are sparsely hairy, but all subsequent leaves are entirely smooth, densely glaucous-blue, thick and cabbage-like, with a fleshy petiole and midrib. In the Turnip, the radical leaves are always more or less slender petiole, and the leaves are much more lyrate, with interrupted leaflets on the petiole; the small leaves following the seed-leaves are also thinner and narrower and more deeply scalloped. In the Rutabaga, the flowers are large and more cabbage-like, whereas in the Turnip they are yellow, small and mustard-like, with shorter claws and more spreading calyx. The Turnips vary in hairiness, but the cone of expanding leaves, or the “heart-leaves,” always shows the hairs distinctly, while the heart-leaves of the Rutabagas are entirely glabrous, fleshy, and remind one of the young shoots of sea-kale. The Turnip usually produces seed freely if the bottoms are left in the ground over winter; and thereby the plant spreads, becoming a true annual and a bad weed, with a slender, hard root.

Figure 262

DD. Foliage not hairy.

Chinensis, Linn. PAK-CHOI CABBAGE. Figs. 262, 263. Radical lvs. wavy and ample, glossy green, obovate or round-obovate in general outline, tapering to a distinct and thick, strong petiole, which is generally not prominently margined; pod large and tapering into a beak half an inch long; root sometimes tuberous. This plant is grown by the American Chinese, and is occasionally seen in other gardens. It is impossible to determine if this particular plant is the one which Linnaeus meant to distinguish by his Brassica Chinensis, but it best answers the description in his Amoenitates (vol. 4). In Linnaeus’ herbarium is a Brassica marked “Chinensis” in his own handwriting, but it is purple-fld. and has lyrate-lobed lvs., whereas Linnaeus described his plant as having yellow fls. and Cynoglossum-like lvs.

Figure 263
Figure 264

napiformis, Bailey (Sinapis juncea, var. napiformis, Paill. & Bois). TUBEROUS-ROOTED CHINESE MUSTARD. Fig. 264. Radical lvs. Comparatively few, the blade thin and oval in outline, and on long and slender, slightly feathered petioles, sharply and irregularly toothed, with a thin bloom: beak of the pod more abrupt: root distinctly hard and tuberous. This vegetable appeared in France in 1882 from seeds sent by Dr. Bretschneider, of the Russian legation, Pekin. It was offered by Amer. Seedsmen as early as 1889. The plant is a biennial, with thin, bluish foliage, and a small tuberous root like a conical turnip. These roots reach a diameter of 3 or 4 inches, and are scarcely distinguishable from white turnips in appearance, texture and flavor. In China the tubers are used as a winter vegetable, the seeds being sown in summer. The plant is native to China. It does not appear to have been brought to the attention of botanists until Bretschneider published an account of it in a French journal in 1881. Paillieux and Bois (Le Ptager d’ un Curieux) regard it as a variety of Brassica juncea, to which the Chinese mustard belongs, but it is very different from that plant. It is nearly related to Pak-Choi, and it may have sprung from the same species; but it is clearly distinguished by its sharply toothed lvs., one of which is shown in Fig. 264.

Figure 265

CC. Plant truly annual: foliage profuse, loose and soft.

Pe-tsai, Bailey. PETSAI CABBAGE. Fig. 265. Numerous radical lvs., large and light green, oblong or ovate-oblong, crinkled and very veiny, and the margins wavy, contracted into a flat and ribbed petiole 1-3 in. wide which is provided with a wide, thin, notched or wavy wing; stem lvs. sessile and clasping; pod of medium size, with a short cone-like beak. The Pe-tsai, or Chinese Cabbage, is no longer a novelty in American gardens, although it does not appear to be well known, and its merits are not understood. Its cultivation and peculiarities were described in France as long ago as 1840, by Pepin, who says that, while the plant had been known in botanic gardens for 20 years, it was brought to notice as a culinary vegetable only three years before he wrote. It appears to have attracted little attention in Europe until very recent years, however, and it is still included in the second edition of Paillieux & Bois’ Le Potager d-un Curieux, 1892. It began to attract attention in the Untied States probably about 15 years ago. The leaves tend to form an oblong, loose head, like Cos lettuce.

Japonica, Sieb. CALIFORNIA PEPPERGRASS. POT-HERB MUSTARD. Rather numerous radical lvs., oblong or oblong-obovate, the margins either crisped or cut into many very fine divisions, the petiole distinct at its lower end; stem lvs. all petioled; pod very small, with a slender beak. The soft, thin lvs. make excellent “greens.” Long known, but with no designative name, in old gardens in this country, and occasionally runs wild. Int. in 1890 by John Lewis Childs as California Pepper-grass. A very worthy plant.

AA. Whole plant green or but slightly glaucous when in flower: lvs. On the fl.-stems not prominently clasping: fls. Small and yellow. Annuals. (Sinapis or Mustard.)

Figure 267

B. Pod terete or nearly so.

juncea, Coss. (Sinapis juncea, Linn.). CHINESE MUSTARD. Figs. 259, 267. Rank and coarse grower, in the common forms making great tufts of root-lvs. if sown early: radical lvs. generally abundant and often very large, oval or oboval in outline, the blade angled or toothed, tapering into a narrow petiole, which generally bears leafy appendages; lower stem-lvs. more or less toothed and petiolate, the upper ones oblong or oblong lanceolate, entire and usually sessile or clasping; flowering stems and lvs. more or less lightly glaucous: fls. bright yellow: pod slender, of medium size, tapering into a short beak. Asia. – This much abused species held by Hooker and Thomson (Journ. Linn. Soc v. 170) to include a great variety of forms, as Sinapis laevigata, Linn.; S. integrifolia, Willd.; S. ramosa, rugosa, patens, cuneifolia, Roxbg.; S. lanceolata, DC., and others. There are two types of it in cultivation in our gardens, one with the radical lvs. somewhat sharply toothed and nearly smooth below sometimes grown as Brassica [or Sinapis] rugosa), the other with root-lvs. obtusely toothed and spinescent on; the veins below (comprising Chinese Mustard, Chinese Broad-leaved Mustard, and Brown Mustard). Linnaeus founded his Sinapis juncea upon a figure in Hermann’s Paradisus (Hermann, Paradisus Batavus, t. 230, 1705), which represents a plant very much like the former type mentioned above, and which Hermann described as “lettuce-leaved.”

alba, Boiss. WILD MUSTARD. Tall: lvs. pinnatifid and rough-hairy: pods spreading, hairy, the lower part thick and few-seeded: seeds pale brown, large. Weed, from Europe.

sinapistrum, Boiss. CHARLOCK. Tall: lvs. strong-toothed, or sometimes nearly lyrate: pods knotty, glabrous or hairy, the upper third indehiscent and 2-edged, usually 1-seeded. Weed, from Europe.

Figure 268

BB. Pod distinctly 4-angled.

nigra, Koch. BLACK MUSTARD. Fig. 268. Wide-spreading and loose grower: lvs. pinnatifid, somewhat hairy: pods short and erect, glabrous; seeds small and dark brown, pungent, supplying the mustard of commerce. Cult, in Eu., but a weed in this country. Commercial mustard is the flour of the seeds of this species chiefly, but the seeds of B. alba and the probably of B. juncea are sometimes used.