Infobox Cultivar | name = Broccoli

image_width = 250px
image_caption = Broccoli, cultivar unknown
species = "Brassica oleracea"
group = Italica Group
origin = possibly Ancient Rome
subdivision = Many; see text.

Broccoli is a plant of the Cabbage family, Brassicaceae (formerly Cruciferae). It is classified as the Italica Cultivar Group of the species "Brassica oleracea". Broccoli possesses abundant fleshy flower heads, usually green in color, 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 cauliflower, which is a different cultivar group of the same species, but broccoli is green rather than white. In the United States, the term refers exclusively to the form with a single large head. This form is sometimes called "Calabrese" in the United Kingdom, where sprouting (non-heading) types and those with underdeveloped flower buds are also sold as broccoli.


The word "broccoli" comes from the Italian "broccolo", the diminutive of "brocco", meaning "shoot, stalk". Broccoli is a cultivar of wild cabbage, remaining exactly the same species. Wild cabbage originated along the northern and western coasts of the Mediterranean, where it was apparently domesticated thousands of years ago. [cite journal|author=Gray, A.R.|date=1982|title=Taxonomy and evolution of broccoli ('Brassica oleracea' L. var. 'italica')|journal= Economic Botany|volume=36|pages=397–410] [cite journal|author=Boswell, V.R.|date=1949|title=Our vegetable travelers|journal= National Geographic Magazine|volume=96|pages=145–217] That domesticated cabbage was eventually bred into widely varying forms, including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, and brussels sprouts, all of which remain the same species.

Roman 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 that fit the description of broccoli. This would imply that the Romans grew their own broccoli for culinary uses during the 1st century. Some vegetable scholars recognize broccoli in the cookbook of Apicius.

Broccoli was an Italian vegetable, as its name suggests, long before it was eaten elsewhere. At that time it was a sprouting type, not the single large head that is seen today. It is first mentioned in France 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 was also an experimenting gardener with a wide circle of European correspondents, from whom he got packets of seeds for rare vegetables. He noted the planting of broccoli at Monticello along with radishes, lettuce, and cauliflower on May 27, 1767. Nevertheless, broccoli remained 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 cauliflower."

Italians brought broccoli to North America by 1806 [ [ History of Broccoli and Cauliflower at] ] , but it did not become popular until the 1920s. Commercial cultivation of broccoli in the United States can be traced to the D'Arrigo brothers, Stephano and Andrea, Italian immigrants from Messina, whose company made some tentative plantings in San Jose, California, in 1922. A few crates were initially shipped to Boston, where there was a thriving Italian immigrant culture in the North End. 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.


There are three commonly grown types of broccoli. The most familiar is sometimes called Calabrese in Great Britain and simply 'broccoli' in North America. It has large (10 - 20 cm) green heads and thick stalks, and is named after Calabria in Italy where it was first cultivated. It is a cool season annual crop.

Sprouting broccoli has a larger number of heads with many thin stalks. It is planted in May to be harvested during the winter or early the following year in temperate climates.

Romanesco broccoli has a distinctive fractal appearance of its heads, and is yellow-green in colour. It is technically in the Botrytis (cauliflower) cultivar group

Purple cauliflower is a type of broccoli sold in southern Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. It has a head shaped like cauliflower, but consisting of tiny flower buds. It sometimes, but not always, has a purple cast to the tips of the flower buds.

Cultivation, nutritional value, and preparation

Broccoli is a cool-weather crop that does poorly in hot summer weather. Broccoli grows best when exposed to an average daily temperature between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18-23 degrees Celsius). [cite web | url = | title = Broccoli Cultivation Factsheet, Clemson University extension (2003) | accessdate = 2008-05-13] The majority (99%) of the United States broccoli crop is grown in California and Arizona. [cite web | url = | title = Commodity Profile: Broccoli, University of California (2005) | accessdate = 2008-05-13] 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). Chinese broccoli (Alboglabra Group) is also a cultivar group of "Brassica oleracea".

Broccoli is high in vitamin C and soluble fiber and contains multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties including diindolylmethane and selenium. The 3,3'-Diindolylmethane found in broccoli is a potent modulator of the innate immune response system with anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer activity. [cite web | url = | title = Diindolylmethane Information Resource Center at the University of California, Berkeley | accessdate = 2007-06-10] [cite web | url = | title = Diindolylmethane Immune Activation Data Center | accessdate = 2007-06-10] Broccoli also contains the compound glucoraphanin, which can be processed into an anticancer compound sulforaphane, though the benefits of broccoli are greatly reduced if the vegetable is boiled more than ten minutes. A high intake of broccoli has been found to reduce the risk of aggressive prostate cancer. [cite journal | last = Kirsh | first = VA | coauthors = Peters U, Mayne ST, Subar AF, Chatterjee N, Johnson CC, Hayes RB | pmid = 17652276 | title = Prospective study of fruit and vegetable intake and risk of prostate cancer | journal = Journal of the National Cancer Institute | volume = 99 | issue = 15 | pages = 1200–9 | year = 2007 | doi = 10.1093/jnci/djm065 ( [ News article] )] Broccoli leaf is also edible and contains far more betacarotene than the florets.

Broccoli is usually boiled or steamed, but may be eaten raw and has become popular as a raw vegetable in hors-d'oeuvre trays. Although boiling has been shown to reduce the levels of suspected anticancer compounds in broccoli, other preparation methods such as steaming, microwaving, and stir-frying have been shown not to reduce the presence of these compounds.cite news | first= | last=Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick | coauthors= | title= Research Says Boiling Broccoli Ruins Its Anti Cancer Properties | date=2007-05-15 | publisher= | url = | work = | pages = | accessdate = | language = ]

Broccoli is also high in vitamin K.


Broccoli in Popular Culture

In a Halloween episode of The Simpsons, Homer dies from eating broccoli. Dr. Hibbert says Broccoli tries to warn you away from it with its terrible taste. When Homer comes back as a ghost, Ghost Homer eats the broccoli and dies again.


External links

* [ Broccoli]
* [ PROTAbase on "Brassica oleracea (cauliflower and broccoli)"]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Broccoli — Blühender Broccoli Broccoli oder Brokkoli ( …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • BROCCOLI — (entreprise) Broccoli Co., Ltd. 株式会社ブロッコリー Création 1994 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • broccoli — s.m. Varietate de conopidă de culoare verde, foarte bogată în vitamina C. Trimis de gal, 13.09.2007. Sursa: DGE  *bróccoli (it.) s. m. Trimis de Laura ana, 03.08.2007. Sursa: DOOM 2  BROCCÓLI s. m. pl. legumă verde cu gust şi aspect de conopidă …   Dicționar Român

  • Broccoli — Broc co*li, n. [It. broccoli, pl. of broccolo sprout, cabbage sprout, dim. of brocco splinter. See {Broach}, n.] (Bot.) A plant of the Cabbage species ({Brassica oleracea}) of many varieties, resembling the cauliflower. The curd, or flowering… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • broccoli — 1690s, from It. broccoli, pl. of broccolo a sprout, cabbage sprout, dim. of brocco shoot, protruding tooth, small nail (see BROCADE (Cf. brocade)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • broccoli — is spelt with two cs and, despite its plural origin in Italian, is treated (like spaghetti) as a singular mass noun in English: Let it simmer until the broccoli is soft …   Modern English usage

  • Broccŏli — Broccŏli, italienischer Sommerkohl, unserem Blumenkohl ähnlich …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Broccoli — Broccoli, soviel wie Spargelkohl, römisches Nationalgericht; s. Kohl …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Broccoli — Broccoli, s. Kohl …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • broccoli — (it.; pronunc. [brócoli]) m. Brécol …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • broccoli — → brócoli …   Diccionario panhispánico de dudas

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.