Cabbage & Company

Vegetables in the diverse brassica family are the tasty and nutritious stars of cool-season gardens.

By Beth Botts

Photography by Andrew Norelli


Chinese broccoli is also called kailaan, gai lan, and kai-lan.Chinese Broccoli
Chinese broccoli is known across Asia by a variety of names, including kailaan, gai lan, and kai-lan. Rumored to be descended from cabbage plants brought to Asia by Portuguese sailors, it is grown for broad leaves, crisp stalks, and small florets somewhat like those of sprouting broccoli, with a similar but slightly more bitter taste. It’s widely used in Asian cooking; in America, Chinese broccoli is most often stir-fried.

Chinese broccoli is grown much like broccoli. But you can harvest the leaves and stems young and tender, before the flowers develop, which makes it a handy crop in short-spring climates. You might have time to direct-sow seeds in the spring garden and do the same in late summer for fall greens.

Recommended Chinese Broccoli Varieties

  • ‘Green Lance’. Early-flowering hybrid. 45 to 60 days. (Kitazawa Seed Co.)
  • ‘Happy Rich’. A vigorous broccoli-Chinese broccoli hybrid. 55 days. (Johnny’s Selected Seeds)
  • ‘South Sea’. Early; tender leaves and shoots. 35 to 50 days. (Evergreen Seeds; sold as “Chinese kale”)