Botanical Name: Brassica oleracea botrytis
Species: B. oleracea
Common Name: Cauliflower (The name comes from Latin caulis (cabbage) and flower)
Habitat: Cauliflower is grown allover the world. It is cultivated form of B. oleracea.
Description: Cauliflower an annual /biennial plant that reproduces by seed, growing to 0.8 m (2ft 7in). It is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to August, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September in Colder countries but in tropical countries it is an winter vegitable. Typically, only the head (the white curd) is eaten. The cauliflower head is composed of a white inflorescence meristem. Cauliflower heads resemble those in broccoli, which differs in having flower buds. Brassica oleracea also includes broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, and kale, though they are of different cultivar groups.The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.The plant is self-fertile.
Classification and identification:…….Major groups:…….There are four major groups of cauliflower.
*Italian: Diverse in appearance, and biennial and annual in type, this group includes white, Romanesco, various brown, green, purple, and yellow cultivars. This type is the ancestral form from which the others were derived.
*Northern European annuals: Used in Europe and North America for summer and fall harvest, it was developed in Germany in the 18th century, and includes the old cultivars Erfurt and Snowball.
*Northwest European biennial: Used in Europe for winter and early spring harvest, this was developed in France in the 19th century, and includes the old cultivars Angers and Roscoff.
*Asian: A tropical cauliflower used in China and India, it was developed in India during the 19th century from the now-abandoned Cornish type,and includes old varieties Early Benaras and Early Patna.
Varieties: There are hundreds of historic and current commercial varieties used around the world. A comprehensive list of about 80 North American varieties is maintained at North Carolina State University.
Colours: ....White……..White cauliflower is the most common color of cauliflower.
Orange:....Orange cauliflower (B. oleracea L. var. botrytis) contains 25% more vitamin A than white varieties. This trait came from a natural mutant found in a cauliflower field in Canada. Cultivars include ‘Cheddar’ and ‘Orange Bouquet’.
Green:.…..Green cauliflower, of the B. oleracea botrytis group, is sometimes called broccoflower. It is available in the normal curd shape and with a fractal spiral curd called Romanesco broccoli. Both have been commercially available in the U.S. and Europe since the early 1990s. Green-curded varieties include ‘Alverda’, ‘Green Goddess’ and ‘Vorda’. Romanesco varieties include ‘Minaret’ and ‘Veronica’.
Purple:…….The purple color in this cauliflower is caused by the presence of the antioxidant group anthocyanins, which can also be found in red cabbage and red wine. Varieties include ‘Graffiti’ and ‘Purple Cape’.
In Great Britain and southern Italy, a broccoli with tiny flower buds is sold as a vegetable under the name “purple cauliflower”; it is not the same as standard cauliflower with a purple curd.
Succeeds in full sun in a well-drained moisture-retentive fertile soil with plenty of lime. Cauliflowers, especially the winter and spring maturing types, should not be given a soil that is too rich in nitrogen since this can encourage soft, sappy growth that is more susceptible to winter cold damage. Prefers a heavy soil]. Requires a warm sunny position. Prefers a pH in the range 6 to 7, though it tolerates a pH in the range 4.3 to 8.3. Succeeds in maritime gardens. Lack of moisture in the growing season can cause the plant to produce small or deformed curds. Summer varieties are not very cold hardy and will be damaged by light frosts, winter cauliflower plants are more hardy and will tolerate temperatures down to about -6°c, though the curds are more sensitive and can suffer damage at about -2°c. This damage can often be prevented by bending over the leaves so that they cover the curd. Cauliflowers are widely grown for their edible immature flower heads (or curd). There are many named varieties and, by careful selection, it is possible to provide a year round supply. The summer and autumn maturing cultivars are annuals, they need to produce a certain number of leaves before curd development will be initiated. The optimum temperature for this is around 17°c, but at temperatures above 20°c the curds will either be of poor quality or not be produced at all. Winter and spring maturing forms are biennial and need exposure to temperatures below 10°c before they will produce curds and once again, this will not happen unless the plant has reached a certain size. Grows well with celery and other aromatic plants since these seem to deter insect predations. Grows badly with beet, tomatoes, onions and strawberries.
Seed – sow in a seedbed outdoors in April to June depending on the cultivar. Plant out into their permanent position when the plants are 5 – 10cm tall. Seed of some cultivars can be sown in late winter in a greenhouse in order to obtain a harvest in early summer. Do not let the seedlings get overcrowded or they will soon become leggy and will not make such good plants. If your seedlings do get leggy, it is possible to plant them rather deeper into the soil – the buried stems will soon form roots and the plant will be better supported.
Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves.
Immature flowering head – raw or cooked. A mild cabbage-like flavour, they make an excellent cooked vegetable and are also very acceptable in salads. By careful selection of cultivars, it is possible to produce flowering heads all year round. Leaves – cooked. A mild cabbage flavour, they make a good cooked vegetable. Do not over-harvest them, however, since this would adversely affect the production of the flowering head .
Protection against certain cancers. Naturally occurring chemicals (indoles, isothiocyanates, glucosinolates, dithiolethiones, and phenols) in cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, and other cruciferous vegetables appear to reduce the risk of some cancers, perhaps by preventing the formation of carcinogens in your body or by blocking cancer-causing substances from reaching or reacting with sensitive body tissues or by inhibiting the transformation of healthy cells to malignant ones.
All cruciferous vegetables contain sulforaphane, a member of a family of chemicals known as isothiocyanates. In experiments with laboratory rats, sulforaphane appears to increase the body’s production of phase-2 enzymes, naturally occurring substances that inactivate and help eliminate carcinogens. At the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, 69 percent of the rats injected with a chemical known to cause mammary cancer developed tumors vs. only 26 percent of the rats given the carcinogenic chemical plus sulforaphane.
In 1997, Johns Hopkins researchers discovered that broccoli seeds and three-day-old broccoli sprouts contain a compound converted to sulforaphane when the seed and sprout cells are crushed. Five grams of three-day-old broccoli sprouts contain as much sulforaphane as 150 grams of mature broccoli. The sulforaphane levels in other cruciferous vegetables have not yet been calculated………....Click & see :
Other Uses :…….Fungicide……..An extract of the seeds inactivates the bacteria that causes black rot.
Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter). Cruciferous vegetables, including cauliflower, contain goitrin, thiocyanate, and isothiocyanate. These chemicals, known collectively as goitrogens, inhibit the formation of thyroid hormones and cause the thyroid to enlarge in an attempt to produce more. Goitrogens are not hazardous for healthy people who eat moderate amounts of cruciferous vegetables, but they may pose problems for people who have a thyroid condition or are taking thyroid medication.
Intestinal gas. Bacteria that live naturally in the gut degrade the indigestible carbohydrates (food fiber) in cauliflower, producing intestinal gas that some people find distressing.
Food/Drug Interactions: Anticoagulants. Cauliflower contains vitamin K, the blood-clotting vitamin produced naturally by bacteria in our intestines. Additional intake of vitamin K may reduce the effectiveness of anticoagulants (warfarin, Coumadin, Panwarfin), requiring larger-than-normal doses to produce the same effect.
False-positive test for occult blood in the stool. The active ingredient in the guiac slide test for hidden blood in feces is alphaguaiaconic acid, a chemical that turns blue in the presence of blood. Cauliflower contains peroxidase, a natural chemical that also turns alphaguaiaconic acid blue and may produce a positive test in people who do not actually have blood in the stool.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.