Brassica napus ssp. pabularia
Russo-Siberian Kales mostly have come out of Northern Europe and Northern Asia. Red Russian and Siberian are the two most well known of these types in the United States, however many other varieties have been developed from these lines. They typically are more tender and have a milder flavor than the European oleracea kales and are therefore better for salad use. Most Varieties are great for use as "napini" (young sprouts in the spring similar to broccoli raab), although some varieties are specially bred for that use. They are hardy to at least 10F once established and some sources claim them to be hardy to -10F and maybe -20F. Survival at these extra low temperatures may require a good mulch and/or snow cover. There are many factors known and unknown that can effect winter hardiness and there can be no real guarantee for how cold a crop can go. Wind can be an important factor in killing plants and a pattern of freeze thaw freeze thaw can also be detrimental. They Perform best in cool weather but many varieties Of napus kales tolerate hot weather. It is widely known that the flavor of Russo-Siberian kale sweetens dramatically after first frost. It can be grown anywhere in the US and even in Alaska.
Being variable in its forms, Brassica napus is divided into three groups or subspecies. The Rutabaga (Swedes in England) is ssp. napobrassica or rapifera and are grown for grown for their swollen stems/roots that resemble turnips (B. rapa). Russo-Siberian Kales and Hanover Salad are ssp. pabularis or pabularia and are grown for their leaves that may resemble those of the European kales (B. oleracea). Winter rape and canola (colza in India) are ssp. oleifera and are grown for their edible leaves, livestock forage, or for the oil rich seed. All have large, flat leaves 12-20 in (30.5-50.8 cm) long and 8-15 in (20.3-38.1 cm) wide, stand 2-4 ft (0.6-1.2 m) when mature, have yellow, cross-shaped flowers with four petals and the small seed develops in sickle shaped pods.
Presently, the species Brassica napus is thought to have originated from a chance hybridization between Brassica rapa and Brassica oleracea. This cross probably happened in European gardens during the Middle Ages. The rutabaga, kale and rape may have all originated from separate chance hybridizations between the diverse forms of B. napa and B. oleracea. For example, napus kale could have been derived from B. oleracea ssp. acephala (kale/collard) crossing with the B. napa ssp. chinensis (Asian mustard). The rutabaga could have been derived from B. oleracea ssp. acephala (kale/collard) crossing with the B. napa ssp. rapifera (turnip).
Classification Information for Brassica napus ssp. pabularia
Kingdom Plantae (Plants)
Subkingdom Tracheobionta (Vascular plants)
Superdivision Spermatophyta (Seed plants)
Division Magnoliophyta (Flowering plants)
Class Magnoliopsida (Dicotyledons)
Family Brassicaceae (mustard family)
Genus Brassica (mustard genus)
Species Brassica napus (rape species)
Variety/Subspecies pabularia (Siberian kales)
Botanical Epithets: nap = turnip; apus = stalk-less; pabularia = of fodder
Spring/Summer – sow indoors in march then transplant when the soil can be worked.
Fall/Winter – June through august 15th. Just after the 4th of July is a good time or six weeks before the first frost so that the plants can become well established before winter.
Direct Sow – Anytime after danger of hard frost has passed in may, or at least six weeks before the first frost
Placement: As a fall/winter planting it may follow in the same bed after green beans, peas, potatoes or some other planting that has occupied the ground through summer or even early fall.
- 215 seeds/gm or 6,000 seeds/ounce. (WG)
- 300 seeds/gm or 8,400 seeds/ounce. (Ter)
- 355 seeds/gm or 10,000 seeds/ounce. (Jevons)
Germination Temperature: Optimal 55-75F
Days to emergence: 3-8 Days Minimum or 5-15 Days maximum
Legal germination standard: 75% minimum
Soil and Fertility:
All kales are fairly heavy feeders, however they tolerate low fertility better than other brassicas (like cabbage and cauliflower). If under fertilized kale plants will grow smaller leaves but still retain good overall plant health. Be thoughtful with the fertility issue. Pests such as aphids can zero in on kale when stressed and the plants are not engaged in active growth. Too much fertility can cause problems too. Most sources suggest to amend well with a rich compost or composted manure or use 1/4-1/2 cup of a balanced fertilizer per plant. As with other Brassicas, early varieties may require more soil nutrients than the later maturing varieties. They will Tolerate a pH range of 4.2 to 8.3, but prefers somewhere closer to 7 pH. The application of lime is advised if the soil is naturally acidic, as it tends to be in the pacific northwest. The plants prefers sandy/light, loamy/medium or clay/heavy soils. They Prefer well-drained soil, but they will grow in heavy clay soil.
Biointensive - 15 in. equidistant, 84 plants/100 sq. ft. in raised beds.
Conventionally – sow 1-2 in apart in rows 24 in apart. thin to 16-24 in. Thin at 3rd true leaf and use thinnings in salad, leaving the strongest plants.
Water Requirements: Moderate. Do not over-water to an extreem and do not let the plants wilt heavily due to lack of water. While growing best in moist soil, some varieties are more tolerant of temporarily water-logging and/or drought.
Light Requirements: Full Sun/Partial Shade (light woodland), Full Sun is optimal.
Temperature Requirements/Hardiness: Cold temperatures below (-4°C) may either kill or injure seedlings. However, temperatures of -2°C has no affect when the plants are more than one month old (PFF).
pick when outer leaves are 8-12 inches long. Avoid picking inner leaves to not damage the growth end. Pick early in the day and cool quickly by dunking in cold water. Store at 100% humidity and 32F. Usually at least a 17 week harvest period.
Biointensive - 114#/100 sq. ft., 0.9-1.8#/plant
Average US - 16#/100 sq. ft.
All Kales are less susceptible to insect and disease damage than their cousin brassicas (like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower) and napus kales are no exception. Here are a number of problems that might arise or not arise at all.
Aphids – May infest plants rapidly when vigor is low, as in the early spring. Common when plants are young and when flowering and seed formation has begun. Avoid by transplanting plants that have not been stunted and growing healthy plants in fertile soil. Most infested plants will pull through when vigorous growth begins. Avoid by planting out later in the season when aphid populations are at their low. Control with Insecticidal soap, hot pepper wax, a hard spray of water. Balance formative forces with horsetail tea (Storl). Encourage predatory insects with insectary crops.
Fungus Gnats – mainly a problem in greenhouses. Can kill young seedlings or set them back in growth drastically. The larva eat organic matter in the soil and love brassica seedling roots.
Cabbage White Larva/root maggots/loppers/cabbage worm – exclude pests with row cover(fleece) such as reemay or agribond. Use summer insect barrier netting or mosquito netting if temperatures are too hot for row covers.
Flea Beetles – exclude pests with row cover(fleece) such as reemay or agribond. Use summer insect barrier netting or mosquito netting if temperatures are too hot for row covers. Predatory nematodes may be an effective deterrent, but must be applied every year. Avoid growing during time of peak beetle population.
Symphylans – Tiny white centipedes that can do lots of damage to roots.
Club Root – An infection that causes white club-like swollen roots. This hinders the plants ability to take up water and nutrients, generally stunting growth. In severely infected plants, it will cause severe wilting even when soil is moist and eventually will kill the plant. Some varieties are more resistant than others. Napus is not as effected as other Brassica species. This disease is virulent once established and extremely difficult to eradicate.
Damping Off - Young plants fall over and begin to wilt. The stem looking pinched and rotten at the soil surface. It is mainly a problem with young transplants in flats, especially in greenhouses, and is avoided with good air circulation and dry soil surface on cool evenings.
Misc. Techniques: A mulch applied especially after the ground is frozen will help plants live through very cold temperatures and will help keep plants stay vigorous to promote good growth in the early spring.
- 3 years (Ter)
- 5 years if stored under ideal conditions (Ashworth)
- 3.8 lb/100 sq. ft. Max yield (Jevons)
- I heard Frank Morton say that predicting the seed yield of a brassica crop can be a "crap shoot".
The Leaf is eaten in Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter (for best flavor). They may be eaten raw, in salad, steamed, boiled, soup, sauté, stir fried or roasted. The young flower shoots (napini/raab) are eaten in spring and are very sweet, can be cooked like and have the texture of broccoli or asparagus. They may be eaten raw, in salad, steamed, boiled, soup, sauté, stir fried or roasted. Oil made from the seeds can be used as a cooking oil or salad oil. Be warned that The oil contained in the seed of some varieties of this species can be rich in erucic acid which is toxic. Although, modern cultivars have been selected which are almost free of erucic acid. The seed can be used to start sprouts to be used the same as other sprouts. The seed can also be used as a mustard flavoring.
The root is emollient and diuretic. The juice of the roots is used in the treatment of chronic coughs and bronchial catarrh. The seed, powdered, with salt is said to be a folk remedy for cancer. Rape oil is used in massage and oil baths, it is believed to strengthen the skin and keep it cool and healthy. With camphor it is applied as a remedy for rheumatism and stiff joints(PFF).
The seed contains up to 45% edible semi-drying oil. This oil can be used as a luminant, lubricant, in soap making, fuel for diesel engines etc.
Naturalized Range and Habitat:
Wild populations of Brassica napus are found throughout Europe and the Mediterranean (including Britain), India, most states in the US and probably many other countries. Its preferred habitat can be the banks of streams, ditches and arable fields.
14.1 grams of protein/lb.
601 mg calcium/lb.
Very high amounts of vitamins and minerals. (Jevons)
Asparagus Kale – Spring flower sprouts can be eaten like asparagus. Leaves are good used for greens. The 2 ft tall plant's leaves and stems have a touch of purple.
- 1998, 2004 source: Ho13
Bear Necessities – A collection of different skeletal leaf kales. Derived from Russian and Siberian kales (B. napus) crossed with Mizuna (B. rapa). A great cold tolerant salad mix item that is mild and very sweet. The leaf shapes are completely unique with a range of leaf colors. Origin: Bred by Tim Peters, Peters Seed & Research, Riddle, Oregon.
- 2006 source: PSR
Blue Siberian – Siberian Type with Waxy Smooth Leaves.
- 1998 Source: Se2 (not available commercially in 2004)
Budget Cuts – Heavily dissected finely cut leaves are very bright and shiny green. Similar to Bear Necessities. One of the best baby leaf Kales to come out of the PSR breeding program. Result of a rare cross between B. napus and B. rapa, made to create a more hardy salad green. Origin: Bred by Tim Peters, Peters Seed & Research, Riddle, Oregon.
- Source: 2006 PSR
Dwarf Siberian (German Sprouts) – 60-70 days. Broad thick plume-like blue gray green leaves with slightly frilled edges. Hardy and very productive. Not as curly as scotch kales. The Plants grow 12-16" tall and 24-36" wide.
- source: 2004 Bo19, Hig, La1, Sau, WI23; 2006 baker creek
Frilly Kale – Salt Spring Seeds claims this is Brassica oleracea kale but also claims that it is a sport of Russian Kale. Seedlings appear normal for the first month, then start producing green leaves so frilly along their edges that they resemble curly parsley.
- Source: 2006 Salt Springs Seeds
Greenpeace – 32 days. Rare Russian strain, greenish blue plants purple stems, highly variegated leaves. Origin: Greenpeace experimental farm on Denman Island off British Colombia.
- Source: 1998 Se8 (not available commercially in 2004)
Gulag Stars – A mix of Russian and Siberian kales from the original Gulag. Contains some completely unique leaf types and incredible colors. Same Great Brassica napus eating quality. Very adaptable and diverse population. Seems to have a bit of B. rapa mustard mixed into its genetic make up. Origin: Bred By Tim Peters at Peters Seed & Research in Riddle, Oregon.
- 2006 Source: PSR
Hanover Salad (Meyer's Brand Spring, Plain, Smooth, Spring, Spring Sprouts) – 30-90 days. A fast growing, cold hardy, Siberian kale that is said to actually be a rape. Slow to go to seed in spring. The scalloped edged, smooth leaves have the best eating quality when young and tender. The leaves form a rosette that is similar to that is similar to turnip greens, but the root is not tuberous. Can be Sown in Spring or later and overwintered. The leaves are used as cooking greens and in salads.
- Source: 1998 Abu, C13, So1, SOU, Wet. 2004 Cl3, Ho13, ME9, So1, SOU, Wet.
Long Seasons (Late Hanover, Long Season Slow seeding) – 75 Days. Smooth, notched leaves. Cold hardy and will yield late fall or early spring harvests if sown in August or September. Later to mature than Spring Kale due to its slow growth, but it goes to seed later than other varieties. May be the same or very similar to Hanover salad.
- source: 1998 Abu (not available commercially in 2004)
Long Standing Siberian – Last offered Commercially in 1991.
Morton's Swarm – A mix withdiverse leaf shapes, undulated and crinkled, with diverse colors. Colors are Blue green to red purple and is similar to wild garden kales,possibly the same progeny. Origin: Introduced in 1994 by Alan Kapuler of peace seeds.
- Source: Kok
Red Russian (Ragged Jack, Russian Kale, Canadian Broccoli) - 25 days baby, 50-60 days mature from transplant. Stems and veins are red/purple and the leaves are deep gray/green. Flat leaf with toothed edges. Vigorous plant grow up to 18-36 inches tall. Hardy to -10F. Used as in salad or as a bunching green. [Origins in Russia and may predate 1865. A late variety that is extremely resistant to cold with leaves harvested all winter. Flavor being improved by frost. (Koko)] [Documented since 1885 and reintroduced by Canadian herbalist Betty Jacobs in 1977. (SSE)]. [Possibly the most hardiest and most delicate of kales. Also can withstand weeks of heat. (GMV)]
- 2006 Source: JSS
, Ter, Sh9
Red Ursa – Selected among the 5 Best New Vegetable Introductions of 1997 in the National Gardening Trials. Combines the broadleaf frills of 'Siberian' with the color of 'Red Russian'. Tender, good bulk and flavorful for salads. Bolting purple stems of overwintered plants are very sweet and colorful for salad or for light cooked like asparagus.
- Source: 2006 So6, Sh9
Siberian (Early Siberian, Siberian Curled, Early Curled Siberian) - 60-70 Days. Extremely hardy, vigorous, rapid growing. Blue green, huge, feather shaped, slightly curled leaves. Non heading 12-16 in leaves. Spreading plants sow in spring or fall. Popular in the south. Light frost improves tenderness and flavor, often used for stock feed.
- Source: 2004
lots of sources
Siberian, Dwarf Improved – Can be harvested later into the spring than other varieties because it is slower to go to seed. The very frilly dark green leaves form a 24" rosette.
- Source: 2006 Ter
Spring Sweet – [A selection of the red Russian type that is sweeter in the spring. Oak shaped leaves have less color than others. From PSR breeding Program. (GSI98)]
- 1998 source: PSR
True Siberian – [70 days. 24-30" tall. Extremely hardy, fast growing plant with large, frilly, blue-green leaves on non-heading sprawling plants. Extremely cold hardy, true Siberian can be picked through winter in many areas. (SOC)]
- 2006 Source: SOC, PS
Western Front – [This Red Russian kale mixture has survived a variety of growing conditions that killed everything Scotch and over 90% of everything Russian or Siberian. Eating Quality is quite good. Up to 50% will regenerate from base of plants for up to 4 or 5 years in wild plantings. Seed Origin: PSR Kale Breeding Program. (PSR)]
-2006 Source: PSR, BG
Wild Garden Kales - Survived 10F lows in Eugene, Oregon 2006. The mother gene pool from which all Frank's wild garden variety of napus kales have been derived. Originated as a cross between 'Red Russian' and 'Siberian' ca. 1984. Intended for mid-July-Aug sowing, fall cropping, and successful overwintering in milder climates to produce copious leaves and "napini" of various shapes and hues. A genetic gold mine for farmers who wish to select strains adaptable to their own farm environment.
- 2006 Source: WGS, Ter
Wild Red - 55 days. Variation on red Russian. 2 foot plants. Silver green foliage overlain with bright red on the stems and leaf joints. Extremely hardy and productive. 1998 source: Hud, Ni1
Winter Red - A red Russian type developed by Tim Peters of Peters Seed and Research for good uniform color and cold tolerance. A tender salad kale that is said to have a little wild mustard in its sap. Works well in a crop scheme with other kales to supply harvests from early fall – spring. Napini from this variety is a month ahead darker red and thinner than other napus kales. A vigorous Red Russian kale that colors up well even before cold weather, but especially after cool weather. The oak-leaf shaped leaves of this kale are more deeply cut than some other common strains of Red Russian kale. Excellent for salad greens when leaves are thumb size; larger leaves make delicious and nutritious cooked greens. Origin: developed by Tim Peters, Peters Seed and Research, Riddle, Oregon.
2006 source: Ter, PSR
White Russian - 50-60 days. Judged most cold hardy kale in trials at Garden City Seeds, Montana 1995. Has a delicate sweet flavor and voted the best tasting among farm crews at Garden City Seeds and GTF. Tolerates saturated soil better than other kales, lone survivors in two flood years and the annual low spots. Leaves are dissected like Red Russian, but with whitish stems and veining. Very vigorous growth. Origin: Developed by Frank Morton, Gathering Together Farm, Philomath, Oregon.
- 2006 source: WGS, SOC, HMS, Ter
Napini Kale (Kale Raab) Varieties
Napini kales or kale raab are planted in the fall and overwintered to produce large amounts of thick, sweet and tender flowershoots once day length exceeds 12 hours in March. Hardy against frost all the way through spring, it is a great early season food source.
Purple Napini (Purple Rapini) – [Flat grey/green leaves with purple stems and veins. Not as sweet as leaf kales but the snappy green shoots are thick and doubly sweet. The primary shoots are tender, up to 18 in long and are used like Raab, broccoli, or asparagus. The dozens of smaller shoots that follow are great in salads. Bred by frank Morton of wild garden seeds.(WGS)]
- 2006 source: WGS
Hot shot mix – [A Mix of crosses between Purple Napini kale and other napus leaf kales. Mix combines big napini traits with attractive and sweet leaf traits in the same gene pool. Good selections. (WGS)]
- 2006 source: WGS
Using Brassica napus as animal forage
Establishment: Apply appropriate lime and fertilizer prior to planting. To control weeds and grasses, use a burn program to benefit establishment. Sow seeds after the soil reaches 55F or higher. Brassica forage crops may be seeded alone or with grasses.
Seeding: 1/4-1/2" deep in well prepared firm seedbed, at a rate of 3-4 lbs/acre.
Soil: Best in well drained, fertile soil with a slightly acidic pH between 5.3 and 6.8.. With their extensive root system, brassicas have very good drought tolerance once established.
Caution: If proper management is not practiced, health problems may occur in livestock from pasturing high protein, low fiber forage brassicas. Avoid feeding brassicas that are flowering and 80% brassica forage is best.
Dwarf Essex Rape has a high amount of leaf for the amount of stem and the stems are very palatable. After a 75 day establishment period it can be cut or grazed every 30 days. The Forage that is produced may contain 18-20% crude protein. It has great cold hardiness that makes grazing or harvesting late into the fall possible.
Siberian Kale is a very palatable and very high yielding forage crop. It can be cut or grazed summer through fall. It is appropriate forage for sheep, beef and dairy cattle. Siberian kale has great lodging resistance and is ready to graze 70-90 days after it is planted.
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound kale (about bunch)
2 teaspoons sesame seed oil
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
Salt and pepper if desired
Heat the sesame seed oil in the skillet over medium-low heat. Add the minced garlic to the hot oil and sauté for about 20 seconds. Add the kale and water to the garlic and oil, and cover the skillet.
After 1 minute, stir the kale, then re-cover. After 1-2 more minutes, when the kale is wilted, stir in the soy sauce and sesame seeds. If desired, add salt and/or pepper to taste.
Ashworth, Suzanne, Seed To Seed (Ashworth)
Deppe, Carol, Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties (Deppe)
Whealy, Kent, Garden Seed inventory 5th edition, 1998, Seed Savers Exchange, Inc. (GSI5)
- Information for 18 varieties of napus kales, mixed up with the oleracea kale section.
Whealy, Kent, Garden Seed Inventory 6th Edition, 2004, Seed Savers Exchange, Inc. (GSI6)
- Information for varieties of napus kales, mixed up with the oleracea kale section.
Jevons, John, How to grow more vegetables 5th edition, (Jevons)
- little information on kales but tons of information on general Bio-intensive gardening
Seed Savers Exchange Yearbook 2006 (SSYB)
Seeds of Kokopelli (Kok)
Storl, Wold D, Culture and Horticulture, 1979, biodynamic literature (Storl)
- no specific information on kales but tons of other related information about general biodynamic gardening.
Colebrook, Binda, Winter Gardening in the Maritime Northwest, 1989 3rd edition, Sasquatch Books (Colebrook)
- one of the few winter gardening books and some of the best information on the subject.
Bountiful Gardens Seed Caalog 2006 (BG)
High mowing seed catalog 2006 (HMS)
Johnny's selected seed catalog 2006 (JSS)
Salt Spring Seeds online catalog 2006
Seed Savers Exchange Catalog 2006 (SSE)
Seeds of change catalog 2006
Territorial seed catalog 2006
Wild garden seed catalog 2006
New Century Seed & Steyer Seeds, Web site (NSC)
Plants For A Future Website (PFAF)
Purdue University Center for New Crops & Plant Products Web site (PUNC)