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The first cabbage!

Perth, United Kingdom(Zone 7b)

I was photographing wild cabbage plants at Dover last week, thought it might interest some members on the vegetable forum to see the wild ancestor of the cultivated species. These are the ages old wild form that was slowly bred and cultivated into the cabbges we eat today. Its not too common, favoring lime rich or salty conditions so usually only found on mainly shingle beaches in northern Europe (I don't know if its naturalised in other areas).
Oddly these wild forms can be either biennial or perennial, most of the Dover plants were perennial, to judge from the woody trunks they had formed - quite unlike the large, stemless rosettes of cultivated cabbages. Also present in the vicinity was Sea Kale, another wild form of a cultivated vegetable and Sea Beet, precursor of the farmed beets. (Sea Kale can be difficult to tell apart from Wild cabbage, having similar looking foliage)

1,2&3: Sea cabbage.

4: Sea beet

5: Sea Kale, at Dungeness about 10 miles west of Dover - it grows at Dover too, but this was the better picture.

Thumbnail by DMersh Thumbnail by DMersh Thumbnail by DMersh Thumbnail by DMersh Thumbnail by DMersh
Canyon Lake, TX(Zone 8b)

Interesting. Are they eatable?

Perth, United Kingdom(Zone 7b)

Apparently so though can be quite strong flavoured, Sea Kale is said to be an excellent vegetable - harvesting for food was said, in days gone by, to be a factor in its decline from a once very common coastal plant, though its fairly abundant locally these days (Its been a while now since it was eaten much)

Link to a site on eating wild cabbage:


Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

DMersh - I'm British, but have never heard of sea cabbage. Those red veins are very pretty in photo #3.

We ate a lot of cabbage when I was a child.

(I was born and raised in Cornwall)

Perth, United Kingdom(Zone 7b)

Cornwall is mostly rocky coastline I believe? Its shingle that the sea cabbage favours most, its a bit of an obscure plant these days, few people would recognise it for what it is (I myself thought it was Sea Kale for years, only recently realised what it was).

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Yes, Cornwall does have a mostly rocky coastline. The South side tends to have pepple beaches, but the Northern shores usually have beautiful white sand beaches. The climb down to and up from Cornish beaches will surely keep you in good shape!

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