Vegetable Seed Production
Family: Brassicaceae

Cauliflower :: Chinese Cabbage :: Radish :: Turnip :: Rutabaga :: Mustard Greens


The word cruciferae means cross in Latin, and was derived from the 4 opposed flower petals that form a square cross.

Broccoli Flowers

Broccoli flower diagram

Flowers are bisexual with one pistil, 6 stamens, a superior ovary with one or two cells that develops into a long pod called a silique that resembles a thin green bean. Flowers are usually cross-pollinated by insects, most often by bees. Flower petals are either yellow or sometimes white. Although the flowers are perfect, they are not self-pollinated because of pollen incompatibility. Pollen can only successfully germinate and grow on a stigma of a flower from a different plant because it is genetically incompatible with flowers from the same plant where it was produced.

Gametophytic self-incompatibility. A pollen parent of genotype S1S2 will be infertile, semi-fertile or fully fertile according to genotype of the female plant. In most species with the gametophytic system, incompatible pollen tubes are inhibited in the style. ES - embryo sac.

Sporophytic self-incompatibility. In this diagram, the S-alleles are presumed to act independently. Other relationships are known, including dominance and mutual weakening. ES - embryo sac.

The immature siliques are edible but rarely are eaten. Immature radish siliques are sometimes used to flavor salads and have a pungency very similar to radish roots.

Many, but not all plants, in the genus Brassica, i.e., mustard, horseradish roots, cress and watercress foliage, have a strong pungency associated with roots leaves and seeds.


Common Name: Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Collards, Kale, Kohlrabi
Scientific Name: Brassica oleracea
Family: Brassicaceae

Introduction & history

Members of the family were formerly known as Cruciferae and are still called crucifers by some. This important family is comprised of nearly 300 genera including many important vegetable, field, and oil crops.

Cauliflower Seed Production and Identification page

Common Name: Chinese Cabbage
Scientific Name: Chinensis group
Family: Brassicaceae

Chinese Cabbage introduction & history

Most Asian crucifers may be grouped into three general categories Chinese cabbage, Chinese broccoli and kale, and Asian mustard greens.

Chinese cabbage is the most widely grown Asian crucifer. Chinese cabbage can be classified as heading and nonheading types. A few of the common names used to describe heading types of Chinese cabbage include: nappa or napa, hakusai, pai-tsai, won bok, pechay, and tsina. Common names for nonheading types include: bok choy, pak choy, celery cabbage, celery mustard, chongee, petsay, and pei tsai. Head and nonheading types may be further classified according to head shape. Heading types are classified as open, erect or cylindrical, and ovoid or barrel. Common nonheading types form a flowering head on a fleshy stem, have an upright growth habit with prominent petioles, or form a rosette with short petioles.

Chinese Cabbage Seed Identification page

Common Name: Radish
Scientific Name: Raphanus sativus
Family: Brassicaceae

Radish introduction & history

Wild species are found in Europe eastward to the Volga River in Russia, and in the Mediterranean basin eastward to the Caspian Sea. Some taxonomists suggest the origin in further eastward, i.e., China. Most agree it is somewhere east of the Mediterranean.

Radishes were known to the Egyptians at least 2000 BC, in China 500 BC, Japan 700 AD, Germany 1400, England 1548, and Mexico 1500.

Radish Seed Identification page

Common Name: Turnip
Scientific Name: Brassica rapa (Rapifera group)
Family: Brassicaceae

Turnip introduction & history

Two main centers of origin have been indicated. The Mediterranean area is thought to be the primary center of the European forms, while eastern Afghanistan and Western Pakistan is considered to be another primary center. Secondary centers are Asia-Minor, Transcaucasus, and Iran.

Culture is ancient. Turnips were known to the Romans prior to Christian Era and grown in France about 2000 years ago. Turnips were brought to America by Cartier in 1541.

Turnips are important cool-season crops used as forage (both roots and tops) for livestock in addition to their use as human food throughout the world as vegetables.

Turnip Seed Identification page

Common Name: Rutabaga
Scientific Name: Brassica napus (Napobrasica group)
Family: Brassicaceae

Rutabaga introduction & history

It is uncertain whether or not B. napus exists in a truly wild form. If wild B. napus exists, it must be a European-Mediterranean species which originated in the area of the overlap between B. oleracea and the widely distributed B. campestris. Nonetheless, the domestication is recent. Known in England about 1600, earlier on the continent, and in the U.S. about 1800.

B. napus is a cool season (prefer temperatures less than 72 degrees F), frost tolerant biennial crop that is grown as an annual. The rutabaga has a rounded and/or elongated root that can become very large weighing 5 lbs or more each. Secondary roots arise from the underside of the enlarged root as well as from the tap root. The neck or crown is prominent. Leaves are smooth, bluish white, with thick petioles and covered with bloom.

Rutabaga Seed Identification page

Common Name: Mustard Greens
Scientific Name: Brassica juncea
Family: Brassicaceae

Mustard Greens introduction & history

This is a nonheading crucifer crop, grown for leaves to be used in cooking or as a garnish or in salad bars.

Mustard Seed Identification page