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Plantidote of the Day 2011-03-10

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mystery vegetable

Mystery vegetable

Here's a genuine challenge. Correntian MsExPat photographed this unusual vegetable while in Chengdu, capital of China's Sichuan province. (A great big hat tip for taking the time to do this, MsExPat!)

I saw this exquisite purple vegetable on top of a street vendor's cart in the market today. Don't know what it is -- I'd guess it is some relative to Chinese broccoli or Gai Lan.

The quality of the fresh produce in even the humblest market here outstrips almost anything you can find in the US.

Hmmm, I have no clue. It looks like Swiss chard and broccoli rabe had a love child -- but what the heck did they name it? (Click on the image for a larger shot that shows the details more clearly.) Ideas, thoughts, wild guesses?

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Submitted by Lex on

There's no doubt that's a brassica, but it doesn't look like any broccoli i've ever seen.

It's Chinese sprouting broccoli, and apparently purple is not only uncommon...

Purple sprouting broccoli is the original ancestor and was used throughout Europe until the green Italian variety swept the continent. The purple does turn green when cooked. Early forms were highly prized by the Romans, and Pliny described them in the 1st century CE.

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Submitted by MsExPat on

I think that this is what it is. "Flowering Purple Stem Choi Sam" (brassica rapa var purpurea).

Purple stems, green leaves, yellow flowers.

Here's another picture, from a seed catalogue that calls it "Purple Pak Choi.

The seed catalogue says that "low temperatures intensify the colors". It's chilly in the mountains around Chengdu, so that would fit.