What is common between Cabbage, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts and Kohlrabi?

Of course, all of them are common vegetables that are a part of our diet the world over. What else is common? Would you believe if i told you that all of them are the same species! Priya Raju told me this bit of amazing information. Wikipedia’s page on Cabbage confirms this. All of them are different cultivars of the same species. But then why do they all taste so different from each other? I am currently reading Jared Diamond’s brilliant book Guns, Germs and Steel and came across the answer on page 122:

Ancestral cabbage plants, possibly grown originally for their oil seeds, underwent even greater diversification as they became variously selected for leaves (modern cabbage and kale), stems (kohlrabi), buds (brussel sprouts), or flower shoots (cauliflower and broccoli) .

In other words, all of these are different parts of the same plant known to us as different vegetables through millenia of cultivation and artificial selection.


  1. Anonymous said July 18, 2007, 10:31 pm:

    Thats interesting Sukumar. I wonder when they will be deemed as a differents species, is there are any criteria for that?

  2. Anonymous said July 19, 2007, 2:55 pm:

    Thanks Archana. I think for different species, the genes would be different. -Sukumar