Vegetables and Fruit forum: chinese cabbage?

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Name: Kim
Seguin, TX (Zone 8b)
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blueeyes
Mar 23, 2016 11:08 AM CST
Hi all,

My mom planted seeds for cabbage, and this is what came out of them. We are not sure if this is chinese cabbage, or something else entirely. She doesn't have the packet anymore. I just don't want to eat something unless I know what it is. Any thoughts?

Thanks, Kim
Thumb of 2016-03-23/blueeyes/e0a4de

Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Mar 23, 2016 5:16 PM CST
Hmm, sort of looks like Chinese cabbage. But the thick stems look like some other Asian green. Possibly @RickCorey will know?
Ontario, Canada (Zone 6a)
Phenolic
Mar 23, 2016 5:55 PM CST
Looks it might be pak choy
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
Mar 23, 2016 8:23 PM CST
They leaves are more wrinkled and crinkled than I'm used to, but it could well be a Brassica rapa or Brassica oleracea.

To me it is "funny looking" for Bok Choy because it seems to lack the celery-like stalks. I've only grown smooth-leaved, shiny-leaf B. rapas. And not many Chinese cabbages to maturity!

Can you rule out some kind of Kale or Western cabbage? Mustard? A nibble would reveal "mustard". I guess it isn't comfry or chard.

Are the leaves hairy? They look kind of fuzzy and thick, not shiny like I expect. In Chinese cabbage, I expect most of each leaf to be thin and only the veins to be thick.

It could be a youngish Michihli Chinese cabbage that has not had time to form a very compact had. But unusually wrinkled leaves. It doesn't look like ANY Napa Chinese cabbage I've seen a photo of.

Or one of many other B. rapa varieties, assuming those exist in heavily wrinkled and crinkled forms.

Sorry I can't narrow it down.

The thing is, Brassica vegetables are very flexible, and have been so selected and crossed over centuries that you can get almost any appearance within one species. Once you've said "It is a B. rapa of some kind", after that, it's pretty much "what you see is what you got".

It's disturbing to me, but the various breeding lines not only diverged into different forms like Bok Choy, tatsoi, Napa cabbage and Michihli cabbage, those lines then also some CONVERGED so that two B. rapa vegetables may look very similar and yet have very different great-great-grandparents! Or two fairly closely-related B. rapas can look very different. So useful names are mostly based on appearance, not genetics.

"What you see is what you got".

If you're sure they came from a seed packet and are not weeds, you might as well boil or stir-fry and eat some. Unless someone has seen that specific kind-of-loose-headed and-very-wrinkled variety, it'll be hard to say what it is.

For even more head-spinning genetics, Google "brassica rapa triangle of u".

Some think that three "ancestral" Brassica species formed inter-species hybrids long ago, creating three other Brassica species:

Theoretically ancestral species:
Brassica rapa (syn. Brassica campestris) – turnip, Chinese cabbage, Bok Choy, tatsoi
Brassica nigra – Black mustard
Brassica oleracea – cabbage, kale, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower

Theoretically inter-species hybrid species:
Brassica juncea – Indian mustard
Brassica napus – Rapeseed, rutabaga
Brassica carinata – Ethiopian mustard

I recently bought some seeds named "Mizunarubasoi" because they are a recently stabilised hybrid of:
a cold-tolerant Mizuna (B. rapa Japonica Group),
Maruba santoh (B. rapa Pekinensis Group, a loose head type Chinese cabbage)
and tatsoi (B. rapa Chinesis Group")

Once they did DNA sequence comparisons, the nomenclature specialists deleted all naming categories other than "B. rapa". (There used to be names like "Brassica rapa Chinesis Group" for Bok Choy and "Brassica rapa (Pekinensis Group) for Napa, Michihli and other Chinese cabbages).

Now there is only "B. rapa" and what the kids in the street call things. Thanks, scientists!!

Their theory is that names should ONLY reflect ancestry, and if gardeners need to distinguish among Bok Choy, tatsoi, Michihli, komatusna and whatever, that is just their problem. They won't allow accepted scientific binomial nomenclature to be useful for anything but indicating actual ancestry. And they keep changing their minds.

That also means that even if you took your plant to a CSI lab and asked for a complete genetic sequence, probably all THEY could say would "B. rapa" ... or it might be "B. oleracea". To narrow it down farther, they would have to compare your plant with possible matches. The gene lines are so interwoven within each Brassica species, DNA tests would be like a paternity test where every suspect shared many grandparents with every other suspect.
[Last edited by RickCorey - Mar 24, 2016 4:11 PM (+)]
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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Mar 23, 2016 9:52 PM CST
I'd say it's definitely not chard... and the leaves seem darker and heavier than any Michihli type that I've grown; maybe just one of the savoyed "regular" cabbages? (but which hasn't formed a head yet, obviously)
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Name: Kim
Seguin, TX (Zone 8b)
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blueeyes
Mar 24, 2016 12:02 PM CST
Thanks all for your help. I guess my dad did taste it, and he said it was like a cross between lettuce and cabbage. The leaves are dark green, not fuzzy but there are little bitty spines on the backs along the veins. I guess we'll leave it a little longer and see if a head forms.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
Mar 24, 2016 4:19 PM CST
Weedwhacker said:I'd say it's definitely not chard... and the leaves seem darker and heavier than any Michihli type that I've grown; maybe just one of the savoyed "regular" cabbages? (but which hasn't formed a head yet, obviously)


I agree with "heavier" or thicker than most Michihli, and you probably have a good point about "darker". Also, based on limited experience, the veins would probably be thicker and longer if it was Michihli.

>> maybe just one of the savoyed "regular" cabbages?

Could be.

I kind of like the idea that since we call THEIR style of cabbage "Chinese cabbage", we should call our style "Western cabbage". But I guess it doesn't matter unless someone makes vegetables start getting visas before crossing oceans.


Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Mar 24, 2016 4:26 PM CST
blueeyes said:Thanks all for your help. I guess my dad did taste it, and he said it was like a cross between lettuce and cabbage. The leaves are dark green, not fuzzy but there are little bitty spines on the backs along the veins. I guess we'll leave it a little longer and see if a head forms.


Well, since it had no "mustard" flavor, that rules out many Asian Brassicas except Bok Choy and Chinese cabbage. I want to say that it is unusual for those, but they are so variable that if some breeder wanted to develop a dark, thick, wrinkled form with spines on the veins, it wouldn't have been too hard.

Here's the most unusual one I have seeds for, but I haven't grown it out yet:
'Chirimen Hakusai'
Chinese Cabbage Loose Head Type B. rapa Pekinensis?
OP 50 days 12" tall
old Japanese variety, crepe textured light green leaves
salad or stir-fry
sow spring or fall or mild summers
sow ½"-¾" deep thin to 5"
Kitazawa #212

So I went hunting for images, and WHO SAYS "light green"?
Some of the images also seemed wrinkly and semi-headed.
The first photo seemed somewhat like yours.

https://www.google.com/search?q=%27Chirimen+Hakusai%27&tbm=i...

Name: KadieD
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Rainbow
Mar 24, 2016 4:32 PM CST
RickCorey said:
I agree with "heavier" or thicker than most Michihli, and you probably have a good point about "darker". Also, based on limited experience, the veins would probably be thicker and longer if it was Michihli.

>> maybe just one of the savoyed "regular" cabbages?

Could be.

I kind of like the idea that since we call THEIR style of cabbage "Chinese cabbage", we should call our style "Western cabbage". But I guess it doesn't matter unless someone makes vegetables start getting visas before crossing oceans.

Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Mar 24, 2016 6:09 PM CST
LOL about the visas, Rick... given the present political climate it may come to that sooner rather than later Rolling my eyes.
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
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RickCorey
Mar 25, 2016 11:39 AM CST
Some small, new company advertises "international shipping". But when you ask for their catalog, the email has a disclaimer saying they can't promise safe delivery. I assume that means no phytosanitary certificate.

I think that Monsanto wants to prevent the movement and sale of any seeds THEY don't own.

I expect to see them take dandelions to court for allowing dandelion seeds to blow around.

Name: Kim
Seguin, TX (Zone 8b)
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blueeyes
Apr 19, 2016 8:35 AM CST
Just to update everyone here....this did end up producing heads and today I harvested my first one. Smells like cabbage and looks just like what I am seeing online. Mystery solved!
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Apr 19, 2016 3:02 PM CST
Thanks for the update, Kim -- and I'm glad to hear that it produced something usable! Thumbs up
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Apr 20, 2016 1:23 PM CST
Great, Kim! And thanks for letting us know.

Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Apr 21, 2016 11:05 AM CST
I found anther Asian Brassica green that looks very little like what I expected: "Tatsoi" that is not a low-growing, flat rosette, but rather has stems. It seems that market growers like things they can make into "bunches".

At Johnnies Seeds:
'Koji', an F1 tatsoi, replacing 'Yukina Savoy' in their catalog.
http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-9600-koji.aspx#

I guess once they start making F1s, they can get a variety of shapes and still call it either of the parents' names.

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