Broccoli (Brassica oleracea) Plant Description
Broccoli is a plant belonging to the cabbage family. Its large flower head is used as a vegetable. The Italian name “broccoli” refers to the “flowering top of a cabbage”.
This plant is classified as part of the Italica cultivar group of the species Brassica oleracea. The large flower heads of Broccoli are green in color and are arranged in
a tree-like fashion. Its branches sprout from a thick stalk which is commonly served as a nutritional food. The mass of the flower heads are surrounded by leaves.
Typically, Broccoli closely resembles the cauliflower, which is of the Brassica oleracea species, but of a different cultivar group. Other closely related plants include
cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale, collards, kohlrabi, and Chinese cabbage. [1]


Broccoli Classification
Brassica oleracea L. var. botrytis L.
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Related Plants within the Brassicacae Family
Brussel Sprouts
The brussel sprout is a cultivar of wild cabbage, also of the Brassica oleracea family. The sprouts contain sulforaphane, which is a chemical said to contain
properties that are effective in preventing cancer. While several plants within the brassica family are known for their rich source of indole-3 carbinol, brussel sprouts are said
to contain the highest levels of this chemical, which boosts DNA repair in cells, shielding the growth and production of cancer cells.

Another commonly known vegetable of the brassica oleracea family is cabbage. This is a leafy green vegetable and is a herbaceous,
dicotyledonous flowering plant with a short stem. From this short stem sprouts a mass of leaves which are green in color. Some plants
may sprout such leaves with red or purple colors. [2]

Cultivation and Management of Broccoli
Broccoli, unlike most cultivated plants, is grown in at least one region of the United States at any given time of the year. While California
produces and markets broccoli throughout the length of the year (taking advantage of its seasonal attributes), Arizona and Texas produce
and market broccoli during the fall and winter months. Further north, Oregon, Michigan, and Maine produce the plant only in the fall season.
Virginia and North Carolina produce different spring and fall crops. Most Midwestern states produce the plant in the summer and fall seasons. [3]
Optimal Climate for the Cultivation of Broccoli
Broccoli is most easily cultivated in cool seasons. Farmers produce heads of the best quality during cool weather. The cultivation of the crop
in temperatures over 85 degrees is extremely difficult. Thus, temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees will support the ultimate crop. Though the
crop grows best on drained soils, the roots demand a moisture-holding capacity. Mulched soils are the most productive for growing the broccoli. [3]
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The Broccoli Market
India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka are the world’s leading producers of broccoli. In the United States, the leading markets are California and Arizona.
California accounts for 85% of cultivated broccoli for the entire country, followed by Arizona, producing over 7% of the harvested acres.
Canada is the leading export market for the United States and accounts for 53% of the value of U.S. broccoli exports. [6]

US Broccoli Statistics


The Stages and Development of Broccoli
Growth Stages and Descriptions
Vegetables belonging to the Brassica species measure growth stages and development within the BBCH-scale.
The following information was extracted from the BBCH-scale:
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In the germination stafe, broccoli begins as a dry seed. When the seed is imbibed, a radicle emerges from the seed. Then, a hypocotyl with cotyledons
breaks through the seed coat in an emergence. The cotyledons break through the soil surface and carry the plant past the germination stage and into
shoot development.
Leaf development (main shoot)
The cotyledons become completely unfolded and the true leaf is visible. This process continues until 9 or more true leaves are unfolded.
Formation of side shoots
When the first side shoot becomes visible, the stae continues until 9 or more side shoots are visible. This is a similar process to the leaf development of the main shoot.
Inflorescence emergence
When the first individual flowers are visible they are still closed. The same goes for the first flower petals that become visible. Therefore, in the inflorescence
stage, both the individual flowers and the flower petals are closed, but are now visible.
In the beginning of the flowering stage, the first flowers open sporadically. The stages are measured by percentages of (10) of flowers that have opened.
When 50% of flowers are open , the plant is considered to be in a full flowering stage. Flowering has finished when the majority of petals have become dry
or have fallen from the plant.


Development of fruit
Upon formation of the first fruit of the broccoli plant, the stages of development are measured by perentages of (10) of fruits that have reached typical size.
This continues until all fruits are developed and have reached their greatest form. This is a similar approach to that of the flowering stage, and the consistency
helps us to identify how far along the plant is in its stages of fruit and flowering dfevelopment.


Ripening of fruit and seed
When 10% of fruits are ripe, the plant is considered in the beginning of th ripening stage. Again, the percentages of (10) process continues. When the plant is fully ripe,
the seeds on the mass are of typical color and are hard.
This stage outlines the death of the broccoli plant. The leaves and shoots begin to discolor. When the entirety of the plant is dead or most leaves have turned to yellow
and have fallen, the seeds are now harvested products and may be used for germination in th next production of the broccoli plant.

Broccoli Nutritional Information
Nutrition Data
Broccoli contains minimal amounts of Saturated Fat and Cholesterol (both appearing as 0%). The vegetable is a good source of Protein (4g), Vitamin E, Thiamin,
Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Selenium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium and Manganese.
Broccoli is also an excellent source of Dietary Fiber.


Human Use and Domestication of the Broccoli Plant
Broccoli is and has been a common household food. The plant is idealized for its nutritional benefits and ease of preparation. Normally, broccoli is steamed, cooked
in a microwave, or served within a stir-fry. When broccoli is boiled, much of the vitamin and mineral content is lost and therefore the purpose of the nutritional addition
to the human diet is contradicted.
Both the flowers and the stem of broccoli are served and consumed by humans.
The plant has been domesticated over wide areas of the earth. Not only are there many ways of cooking this plant, but their are also numerous ways it can be served and/or combined with other foods as well. The domestication
of broccoli is an essential addition to the human diet and provides the body with key vitamins and minerals in the most natural form.
Broccoli, when cooked, is richer in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Calcium. [3]

Cooked Broccoli
Serving size 1/2 cup cooked (78g)
Amounts Per Serving
% Daily Value
Calories 25

Calories from Fat 5

Total Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 30mg
Total Carbohydrate 6g
Dietary Fiber 3g
Sugars 1g

Protein 2g

Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Raw Broccoli
Serving size 1/2 cup raw (36g)
Amounts Per Serving
% Daily Value
Calories 10

Calories from Fat 0

Total Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 10mg
Total Carbohydrate 2g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 1g

Protein 1g

Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Broccoli in Advertising
Perhaps a second wildcard, at a young age we often form the opinion that Broccoli doesn't taste good and is something kids are forced to eat. You can see how public opinion and a traditional "childhood fact" has impacted the modern world. Below are some advertisements that illustrate either extreme sarcasm in reference to the good taste of broccoli, or blatantly pole fun at the green veggie in hopes to strike up a memory or commonly known afiliation of this healthy food with the term "yuck".
ad2 ad3ad1.jpg

What's ironic is, broccoli is actually one of the best tasting veggies that ranks #6 on the "Top Ten Picks" of healthiest fruits and veggies list! Here are some recipes that kids can try. Hopefully we can set an example at an early age and reverse this idea that has so for so long lingered in our society!

1. Broccoli Cheese Nuggets
Lightly breaded broccoli nuggets with cheese and other mixed veggies. This meal still gives kids the vitamins and nutrients they need with the texture they love. Not to mention they can dip for fun!
2. Broccoli and Potato Pancakes
The best of broccoli with healthy starch for energy and the right nutrients to start your day. Kids love pancakes, they'll hardly notice the green in between.
3. Broccoli Brownies
Yes, it sounds crazy... These brownies actually contain a generous portion of broccoli. Because of the remaining ingredients, the taste is barely there, but all the healthy vitamins are still the same!


Broccoli Wildcard: Medicinal Use
Thought we have already highlighted broccoli's potential to prevent caner through antioxidents and its rich mineral and vitamin character, broccoli is sometimes used for
other medicinal purposes. For example, researchers have shown that broccoli can reverse blood vessel damage for diabetes patients.
One of the big problems that diabetes can cause is damage to the blood vessels; that is why many diabetics have problems with circulation to their feet and lower legs
and hands, and it is also why people with diabetes tend to be at higher risk for heart attack and stroke. But broccoli - the blood sugar wonder - is here to help with those
issues. Sulphorophane, a phytochemical that is found in large amounts in broccoli, can help. And it is not just beneficial for diabetes; there is some research that shows
it may help fight colon cancer and breast cancer as well. [4]
"Researchers found sulforaphane activated the compound nrf2, which protected the cells from damage by increasing levels of antioxidant and detoxifying enzymes. They
also recorded a 73% reduction of reactive
oxygen species molecules in cells exposed to sulforaphane." [5]

1. Wikipedia, Broccoli, July 2011.
2. Broccoli: An Economic Assessment of the Feasibility of Providing Multiple-Peril Crop Insurance.
3. Nutrition Data, Broccoli Raw, 2008.
4. Broccoli, The Blood Sugar Miracle.
5. Ninjer, Laura J., Broccoli May Reverse Blood Vessel Damage in Diabetes.,%20Well-Being.pdf
6. Wikipedia, Cauliflower and Broccoli, 2005.
7. Babble, Broccoli Recipes for Kids.