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Brassica rapa
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Brassicales
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Brassica

See text

    • Agrosinapis Fourr.
    • Bonannia C.Presl
    • Brassica-napus A.Vilm.
    • Brassicaria Pomel
    • Brassicastrum Link
    • Crucifera E.H.L.Krause
    • Erussica G.H.Loos
    • Guenthera Andrz. ex Besser
    • Melanosinapis K.F.Schimp. & Spenn.
    • Micropodium Rchb.
    • Mutarda Bernh.
    • Napus Mill.
    • Rapa Mill.
    • Rapum Hill
    • Sinabraca G.H.Loos

Brassica (/ˈbræsɪkə/) is a genus of plants in the cabbage and mustard family (Brassicaceae). The members of the genus are informally known as cruciferous vegetables, cabbages, mustard plants, or simply brassicas.[2] Crops from this genus are sometimes called cole crops—derived from the Latin caulis, denoting the stem or stalk of a plant.[3]

The genus Brassica is known for its important agricultural and horticultural crops and also includes a number of weeds, both of wild taxa and escapees from cultivation. Brassica species and varieties commonly used for food include bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, choy sum, kohlrabi, napa cabbage, rutabaga, turnip and some seeds used in the production of canola oil and the condiment mustard. Over 30 wild species and hybrids are in cultivation, plus numerous cultivars and hybrids of cultivated origin. Most are seasonal plants (annuals or biennials), but some are small shrubs. Brassica plants have been the subject of much scientific interest for their agricultural importance. Six particular species (B. carinata, B. juncea, B. oleracea, B. napus, B. nigra, and B. rapa) evolved by the combining of chromosomes from three earlier species, as described by the triangle of U theory.

The genus is native to Western Europe, the Mediterranean and temperate regions of Asia. Many wild species grow as weeds, especially in North America, South America, and Australia.

A dislike for cabbage or broccoli may result from the fact that these plants contain a compound similar to phenylthiocarbamide (PTC), which is either bitter or tasteless to people depending on their taste buds.[4]



The flowers, seeds, stalks, and tender leaves of many species of Brassica can be eaten raw or cooked.[5] Almost all parts of some species have been developed for food, including the root (swede, turnip), stems (kohlrabi), leaves (cabbage, collard greens, kale), flowers (cauliflower, broccoli, romanesco broccoli), buds (Brussels sprouts, cabbage), and seeds (many, including mustard seed, and oil-producing rapeseed). Some forms with white or purple foliage or flowerheads are also sometimes grown for ornament.

Brassica species are sometimes used as food plants by the larvae of a number of Lepidoptera species—see List of Lepidoptera that feed on Brassica.


Boiling substantially reduces the levels of broccoli glucosinolates, while other cooking methods, such as steaming, microwaving, and stir frying, have no significant effect on glucosinolate levels.[6]


The following species are accepted:[1]

Species formerly placed in Brassica[edit]

Genome sequencing and genetics[edit]

Bayer CropScience (in collaboration with BGI-Shenzhen, China; KeyGene; the Netherlands and the University of Queensland, Australia) announced it had sequenced the entire genome of rapeseed (canola, Brassica napus) and its constituent genomes present in B. rapa and B. oleracea in 2009.[7] The B. rapa genome was sequenced by the Multinational Brassica Genome Project in 2011.[8] This also represents the A genome component of the amphidiploid crop species B. napus and B. juncea.


'Brassica' was Pliny the Elder's name for several cabbage-like plants.[9]


  1. ^ a b "Brassica L." Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 22 June 2023.
  2. ^ Troxell, William (9 August 2022). "What are Brassicas, Exactly?". Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  3. ^ "caulis". Wordnik. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  4. ^ Overfield, Theresa (1995). "Phenylthiocarbamide". Biological Variations in Health and Illness: Race, Age, and Sex Differences. CRC Press. pp. 102–3. ISBN 978-0-8493-4577-7.
  5. ^ Nyerges, Christopher (2016). Foraging Wild Edible Plants of North America: More than 150 Delicious Recipes Using Nature's Edibles. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 120–122. ISBN 978-1-4930-1499-6.
  6. ^ Nugrahedi, Probo Y.; Verkerk, Ruud; Widianarko, Budi; Dekker, Matthijs (25 November 2014). "A Mechanistic Perspective on Process-Induced Changes in Glucosinolate Content in Brassica Vegetables: A Review". Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 55 (6): 823–838. doi:10.1080/10408398.2012.688076. PMID 24915330. S2CID 25728864.
  7. ^ "Bayer CropScience first to sequence the entire genome of rapeseed/canola" (Press release). Bayer CropScience. 9 October 2009. Archived from the original on 15 June 2013. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  8. ^ Wang, Xiaowu; Wang, Hanzhong; Wang, Jun; Sun, Rifei; Wu, Jian; Liu, Shengyi; Bai, Yinqi; Mun, Jeong-Hwan; et al. (2011). "The genome of the mesopolyploid crop species Brassica rapa". Nature Genetics. 43 (10): 1035–9. doi:10.1038/ng.919. PMID 21873998. S2CID 205358099.
  9. ^ Gledhill, David (2008). "The Names of Plants". Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521866453 (hardback), ISBN 9780521685535 (paperback). pp 76

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Brassica at Wikimedia Commons