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Colewort, Flowering Kale, Giant Kale, Giant Gypsophila

Crambe cordifolia

Family: Brassicaceae (brass-ih-KAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Crambe (KRAM-bee) (Info)
Species: cordifolia (kor-di-FOH-lee-uh) (Info)



Foliage Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Flowers are fragrant

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Bloom Color:


Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer



Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:


Kiowa, Colorado

Saint Petersburg, Florida

Denison, Iowa

Woden, Iowa

Portland, Oregon

Doylestown, Pennsylvania

Gibsonia, Pennsylvania

Dallas, Texas

Lexington, Virginia

Olympia, Washington

Seattle, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Mar 16, 2015, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

These are enormous plants with dramatic foliage, best used as a focal point in a large garden.

The huge inflorescence usually requires staking and only lasts about 3 weeks. The scent is usually described as honey-scented, but many people find it unpleasant.

Cabbage butterfly larvae were a persistent problem for me, eating holes in the leaves. Patrolling for larvae wore me down, and I wound up getting rid of the plant. Bt or other suitable insecticide would be an alternate solution. Slugs and snails can also be troublesome.

These can take Z8 on the west coast, but Armitage says that in eastern N. America they can't take the hot humid summers of Z7-9. They require regular deep watering in the heat of summer.


On Mar 14, 2015, Camieux from Doylestown, PA wrote:

My plant is at least 8 yrs old. It bloomed the 2nd and 3rd year but after that all I get is big leaves. Full sun, zone 6. Leaves look healthy and plant appears to have sent up a second, smaller plant next to it. I used to have great success, but don't understand why it stopped blooming. Average soil, average rainfall. I do recall reading on line that sometimes the plant fails to flower. Does anyone know why? Also, I do not fertilize. Thanks for any help.
June 4,2015 my crambe cordifolia is now blooming with two strong stalks, 4'x4'. I guess bloom periods can be temperamental. It is a beautiful plant when blooming. No insect damage, very healthy.


On Aug 25, 2013, NorthernPooka from Kakabeka Falls,
Canada wrote:

My daughter has been growing this successfully for years, grows wonderfully big on the east side of her house in sandy soil, low moisture (because of limited water available) Blooms wonderfully every year. Live in zone 2b Norhwestern Ontario.


On Nov 19, 2009, crabbylion from Saint Petersburg, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

I recently purchased one from our local nursery because we have a guinea pig we would like to feed. We've grown this back in '05 on the north side of our FL home, and surprisingly it bloomed in the limited light. Right now we have it in full sun. Our piggy should be happy. We'll have photos soon.


On Jun 30, 2009, agnesjames from Portland, OR wrote:

My plant in Portland, Oregon has become four plants (I call it the creeping crambe), with eastern exposure only. They bloom beautifully with only morning sun (maybe a bit of filtered afternoon) in acid soil. I do stake the blossom stems, mainly because we get heavy rain or hail about the time they open up. Have had no problem digging and transplanting roots. Because my plants are near a busy sidewalk, crambe blossom time has become a neighborhood event (I've even devised a crambe cocktail in her honor). The scent, however, is a bit putrid.


On Apr 28, 2008, wannadanc from Olympia, WA wrote:

I see this is listed as to be propagated by seed, but I would like to add that it is easily propagated by root stock division. I had to remove the parent plant last fall, and I have 100% success on each of the pieces of the root stock now growing as a separate plant.


On Apr 18, 2005, saya from Heerlen,
Netherlands (Zone 8b) wrote:

I 've wintersowed seeds january 2004 and planted them out that spring. End of april a stem with flowerbuds has emerged.
I hope it 'll get tall I expect.


On Jul 29, 2004, pilmuir from farrellton Quebec,
Canada wrote:

I cant get crambe cordifolia to bloom for me. It is planted in a zone 4b in a heavy clay, dry soil. I have replanted some of it in a lighter soil where it also grows but does not flower. it blooms at my friend's also in zone 4b.


On Jun 30, 2004, jhyshark from Scottville, MI (Zone 4b) wrote:

Zone 4b, I've had it 3 years, and it has two leaves about 4" across... I keep waiting for it to get big... that's why I bought it. Some catalogs list it only to zone 6... anyway, it's not happy in my garden.


On Jun 16, 2003, taramark from (Zone 4a) wrote:

It is interesting that all the literature on Crambe cordifolia list it as hardy to Zone 5, yet my Crambe has been thriving in Zone 4 for eight years.

I often wonder if the seeds germinated at home make for hardier plants.


On Aug 17, 2001, talinum from Kearney, NE (Zone 5a) wrote:

This is a great plant for back of the border. The foliage is huge with wavy fleshy leaves about 3' long. The flowers are creamy-white and look like a gypsophila on steroids. The flower panicles are honey scented.

This large, round species is 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide. The large flower panicle may need to be staked. Benefits from an alkaline soil.

Native to Caucasus, Iran and Afghanistan.