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The Origin, Distribution and Classification of Cultivated Broccoli Varieties

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The Origin, Distribution and Classification of Cultivated Broccoli Varieties

Of the many different vegetable crops now under cultivation in both the U.S. and abroad, one that has gained increasing importance is that of broccoli. Although it does not constitute a significant portion of most people's diets, it has nevertheless experienced a kind of "revival" in recent years and has become increasingly popular (Schery, 1972; Heywood, 1978). It may even be said that broccoli has emerged from relative obscurity and attained the status of a worthwhile garden vegetable,"(Talbert, 1953).

The botanical family to which broccoli belongs is the Brassicaceae, also known as the Mustard family. The Brassicaceae is a large family comprised of approximately 3,000 described species apportioned among 350-380 genera. The precise number of genera will vary depending on the authority(Heywood, 1978; Keil & Walters, 1988). The classification scheme for broccoli and indeed all of the other brassicas is clear and straightforward until one reaches the species level. At that point the addition of numerous subspecies, varieties, and cultivars results in a rather complex and confusing arrangement of-the taxa in question. For example, the scientific name for broccoli, Brassica oleracea (L.), is also shared by cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, collards, brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi, and tronchuda kale, to name a few. Despite the fact that all of the aforementioned varieties are similar to one another and to broccoli, and are therefore referred to as B. oleracea, they are nevertheless separate entities. Most authorities today consider there are two major varieties of broccoli, B. oleracea (L.) var. botrytis or cauliflower broccoli and B. oleracea ...


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Heywood, V.H. 1978. Flowering Plants of the World. Mayflower Books, New York.

Narain, A. 1974. Rape and mustard. pp. 67-70. In J. Hutchinson (ed.), Evolutionary Studies in World Crops: Diversity and Change in the Indian Subcontinent. Cambridge University Press, London.

Schery, R.W. 1972. Plants for Man. 2nd ed. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs.

Snogerup, S. 1980. The Wild Forms of the Brassica oleracea Group and Their Possible Relations to the Cultivated Ones. pp. 121-132. In C. Gomez-Campo, K. Hinata & S. Tsunoda (eds.), Brassica Crops and Wild Allies: Biology and Breeding. Japan Scientific Societies Press, Tokyo.

Talbert, T.J. 1953. Growing Fruit and Vegetable Crops. Lea & Febiger, Philadelphia.

Terrell, E.E. 1977. A Checklist of Names for 3,000 Vascular Plants of Economic Importance. U.S. Department of Agriculture Handbook No. 505, pp. 21-22.


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