cabbage, leafy garden vegetable of many widely dissimilar varieties, all probably descended from the wild, or sea, cabbage ( Brassica oleracea ) of the family Cruciferae (mustard family), found on the coasts of Europe. It is used for food for man and stock, mostly in Europe and North America. Well-known varieties of the species include the cabbages, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collards, kale, and kohlrabi. All grow best in cool, moist climates. They are attacked mostly by insect pests. The true cabbages (var. capitata ) include the white and red types and the Savoy type (grown mostly in Europe), with curly, loose leaves. Inexpensive and easily stored, cabbage is important in the diet of many poorer peoples. Popular cabbage dishes include sauerkraut and slaw (raw cabbage). Chinese cabbage, or petsai, chiefly a salad plant, is a separate species ( B. pekinensis ) grown in many varieties, especially in East Asia. Cabbages with multicolored leaves are becoming popular as ornamental border plants for flower gardens. Cabbages are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Capparales, family Cruciferae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.