Acephala group

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Acephala group
Three young plants of non-heading collard greens growing in a small office wastebasket with a water reservoir at the bottom
Three young plants of non-heading collard greens growing in a small office wastebasket with a water reservoir at the bottom
SpeciesBrassica oleracea
Cultivar groupAcephala Group
Cultivar group membersMany; see text.

The acephala group refers to any type of Brassica which grows without the central 'head' typical of many varieties of cabbage. These are included within the species Brassica oleracea, such as kale (Brassica oleracea var. acephala).[1] The name literally means "without a head" in contrast to those varieties known as capitata or "with a head". This group includes a number of species, both wild and cultivated, many of which are grown for their edible leaves and flowers.

Groups of cultivars[edit]

Different sources break down the Brassica genus into different grouping as shown below:


Mabberley (q.v.) has these groups: Napobrassica Group / Pabularia Group / Acephala Group / Alboglabra Group / Botrytis Group / Capitata Group / Gemmifera Group / Gongylodes Group / Italica Group / Tronchuda Group / Chinensis Group / Japonica Group / Pekinensis Group / Perviridis Group / Rapifera Group

Royal Botanic Gardens Kew[edit]

Royal Botanic Gardens Kew[2] has eight cultivar groups: Acephala Group (kale, borecole, collards) / Alboglabra Group (Chinese kale, Chinese broccoli, gai lan, kai lan) / Botrytis Group (broccoli, cauliflower, broccoflower, calabrese) / Capitata Group (cabbage, Savoy cabbage, red cabbage) / Gemmifera Group (sprouts, Brussels sprouts) / Gongylodes Group (kohlrabi, knol-kohl) / Italica Group (purple sprouting, sprouting broccoli) / Tronchuda Group (Portuguese cabbage, seakale cabbage)


The Acephala group of cultivars or variety for the species Brassica oleracea includes:[3]

Acephala means "no head"[12] as the plants have leaves with no central head; the opposite arrangement of white cabbage, or Savoy cabbage. Each cultivar has a different genome owing to mutation,[13] evolution, ecological niche,[14] and intentional plant-breeding by humans. Mabberley (1997, p. 120) has the Acephala group in three sub-groups: kale, borecole, and collards.[15]


  1. ^ Random House Webster's College Dictionary, New York 1992, p. 736 (s.v. kale)
  2. ^ "Brassica oleracea (wild cabbage)". Royal Botanic Gardens.
  3. ^ "RHS Plant Finder". Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  4. ^ (Quote.) "Originally, a general name for any plant of the cabbage kind, genus Brassica (of which the varieties were formerly less distinct than now)." ("colewort, n." OED Online. Oxford University Press, September 2014. Web. 26 November 2014.)
  5. ^ "Plants for the Front Porch". Henry Homeyer: The Gardening Guy. Henry Homeyer.
  6. ^ "Ornamental Kale/Ornamental Cabbage". The Georgia Gardener. Walter Reeves / The Simple Gardener, Inc. 18 August 2010.
  7. ^ "Flowering kale". Better Homes & Gardens. Meredith Corporation.
  8. ^ "About Flowering Cabbage Plants". Demand Media.
  9. ^ James Alexander-Sinclair. "The ornamental cabbage". Immediate Media Company Ltd. Archived from the original on 2014-07-11. Retrieved 2014-11-26.
  10. ^ Mabberley, D. (1997) Mabberley's plant-book : A portable dictionary of plants, their classification and uses. 3rd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  11. ^ "Definition of Scotch kale in English". Oxford Dictionaries. Archived from the original on July 28, 2013.
  12. ^ "Merriam-Webster :Acephala". Merriam-Webster.(subscription required)
  13. ^ "Courses: "Genome evolution and mutation"". Retrieved 25 November 2014. closed access(password-protected)
  14. ^ Knowles, LL; Carstens, BC; Keat, ML (2007-06-05). "Coupling Genetic and Ecological-Niche Models to Examine How Past Population Distributions Contribute to Divergence". Current Biology. 17 (11): 940–946. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2007.04.033. PMID 17475496. S2CID 13891478.
  15. ^ Mabberley, q.v.

External links[edit]