Brassica rapa (Ruva Group)
Common Name: broccoli raab
Type: Annual
Family: Brassicaceae
Zone: 2 to 11
Height: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Bloom Time: Flowers not showy
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual, Vegetable

Culture

Broccoli raab is a cool season crop. Seeds should be sown in early spring about ¼ inch deep in rows 18-24 inches apart. Thin seedlings to 4-6 inches apart. If grown for greens, harvest when plants reach desired size, about 4 to 8 inches high. If also grown for stems and buds, harvest just before the flower buds open when plants are about 8 to 10 inches high. Seeds may also be sown in mid to late summer for a fall crop. Row covers may be useful in preventing insect damage.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Vegetables in the Brassica rapa (Ruva Group) include broccoli raab, rapini, broccoletti, and broccoletti di rape. Despite the names, these plants are more closely related to turnip than broccoli. Broccoli raab is descended from a wild plant that grew in the Mediterranean area. It was first introduced into cultivation in the United States in the 1930’s. The plants resemble broccoli in appearance but have thinner stems, leaves more like turnip greens, and many clusters of buds instead of one large head. The flavor is more assertive with mustard and bitter components.

Genus name comes from the classical Latin name for cabbage.

Specific epithet means relating to turnips a member of this species.

Problems

Insect pests include aphids, whiteflies, flea beetles, and caterpillars such as cabbage loopers, cutworms, and beet armyworms. Slugs and snails may also be a problem. Diseases include club root, white rust, leaf spot, and rots such as damping off and bacterial soft rot.

Garden Uses

The stems, leaves, and buds of broccoli raab are all edible. Traditionally it has been used in Italian and Chinese cuisines where its aggressive flavor goes well with pasta, garlic, hot peppers, or ginger.