Broccoli is a
plant of the Cabbage family, Brassicaceae (formerly Cruciferae).
It is classified as the cultivar group Brassica oleracea
Italica Group. Other cultivar groups of Brassica oleracea include cabbage (Capitata
Group), cauliflower (Botrytis Group),
kale and collard greens (Acephala
Group), kohlrabi (Gongylodes Group),
and Brussels sprouts (Gemmifera
Group). The Chinese broccoli (Alboglabra
Group) is also a cultivar group of Brassica oleracea.
of romanesco broccoli
varieties are Calabrese and purple sprouting broccoli.
possesses abundant fleshy green flower heads arranged in a tree-like fashion on
branches sprouting from a thick, edible stalk. The large mass of flower heads
is surrounded by leaves. Broccoli most closely resembles its close relative cauliflower,
but is green rather than white.
is a cool-weather crop that does poorly in hot summer weather. It is usually boiled
or steamed, but may be eaten raw and has become popular as a raw vegetable in
hors-d'oeuvre trays. Broccoli
is high in vitamin C and soluble
word broccoli comes from the Latin brachium and Italian brocco
meaning 'arm', or 'branch'. Broccoli is often referred to as a "cruciferous" vegetable.
The Brassicaceae family (also
known as the mustard or cabbage family) was formerly called the Cruciferae
family, due to the fact that these plants often have four petals which can look
broccoli near Salinas, California, USA.
references to a cabbage family vegetable that may have been broccoli are less
than perfectly clear: the Roman natural history writer, Pliny the Elder, wrote
about a vegetable which might have been broccoli. Some vegetable scholars recognize
broccoli in the cookbook of Apicius.
was certainly an Italian vegetable, as its name suggests, long before it was eaten
elsewhere. Its first mention in France is in 1560, but in 1724 broccoli was still so unfamiliar
in England that Philip
Miller's Gardener's Dictionary (1724 edition) referred to it as a stranger
in England and explained it as "sprout colli-flower" or "Italian asparagus". In
the American colonies, Thomas Jefferson an experimentative
gardener with a wide circle of European correspondents, from whom he got packets
of seeds for rare vegetables such as tomatoes, noted the planting of broccoli
at Monticello along with radishes,
lettuce, and cauliflower on May 27, 1767. Nevertheless, broccoli remained
an exotic in American gardens. In 1775, John Randolph, in A Treatise on Gardening
by a Citizen of Virginia, felt he had to explain about broccoli: "The stems
will eat like Asparagus, and the heads like
was naturalized by the D'Arrigo brothers, Stephano and Andrea, immigrants from
Messina, Italy, whose company
made some tentative plantings in San Jose, California
in 1922, and shipped a few crates to
Boston, where there
was a thriving Italian immigrant culture in the North End, ready for a familiar
green. The broccoli business boomed, with the d'Arrigo's brand name 'Andy Boy'
named after Stephano's two-year-old son, Andrew, and backed with advertisements
on the radio. So broccoli arrived in the U.S. in the 1920s as a 'new vegetable'.
and cauliflower have been recently crossed to create a vegetable called broccoflower, with very pale
green heads densely packed like cauliflower, but with the flavour of broccoli.