a garden vegetable closely related to cauliflower
Broccoli has thick clusters of
flower buds that form edible "heads."
These heads are green, and they are more branched
and open than the tight, round, white heads of
The kind of broccoli most
commonly grown in America first came from
southern Europe and is called Italian
broccoli, or sprouting broccoli.
This kind makes a somewhat branching cluster of
green flower buds atop a thick, green flower
stalk 2-2.5 feet tall, and smaller clusters that
arise like "sprouts" from the stems at
the attachments of the leaves. The other major
kind of broccoli is called "heading
broccoli" or "cauliflower
broccoli," and makes a dense, white curd
like that of cauliflower.
The word "broccoli"
is an Italian word taken from the Latin brachium,
meaning an arm or branch.
Broccoli grows best in cool
weather and in fertile soil with plenty of
moisture. It can be grown from seeds in 100 to
120 days. Some growers start the seeds in a
greenhouse or in outdoor seedbeds, then transfer
the young plants to a garden early in the spring.
Commercial growers may plant several crops of
broccoli a year. The best crop often matures
after the first "killing frost."
Growers cut broccoli when the
clusters of flower buds are still green. The
flower buds along with their fleshy stems are
eaten. Broccoli is rich in vitamins A and C.
Broccoli is a cultivar of wild
cabbage, which once flourished along the northern
and western coasts of the Mediterranean. The wild
cabbage was domesticated thousands of years ago,
and was eventually bred into a variety of
sub-species, including broccoli, common cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, and Brussels
Broccoli was probably first
developed in ancient Italy, but its exact origins
are unclear. It is first mentioned in France in
1560, but remained unfamiliar to most of Europe
until the 1700's.
Commercial cultivation of
broccoli in the United States can be traced to
the D'Arrigo brothers, Stephano and Andrea,
immigrants from Messina, Italy, who made some
tentative plantings in San Jose, California, in
1922. A few crates were initially shipped to
Boston, where they were an instant hit with the
Italian immigrant population, and the rest is, as
they say, history.
family Cruciferae (mustards)
genus & species Brassica oleracea italica
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