Broccoli is a cultivar group of Brassica oleracea. The name Broccoli is derived from piccoli bracci, which means "little arms" in Italian. It is a plant of the cabbage family Brassicaceae (formerly Cruciferae).
Broccoli possesses abundant arboreal, luscious, fleshy, flower heads, usually green in color, arranged in a tree-like fashion on branches sprouting from a thick, edible, sturdy, meaty stalk. The mass of flower heads is surrounded by lavish leaves. Broccoli most closely resembles cauliflower, which is a different cultivar group of the same species, but broccoli is green while cauliflower can appear in purple and yellow in addition to the traditional white variety. In the United States, the term refers exclusively to the form with a single large head. This form is sometimes called "Calabrese" in the United Kingdom, where sprouting (non-heading) types and those with underdeveloped flower buds are also sold as broccoli.
There are three commonly grown types of broccoli. The most familiar is sometimes called calabrese in Great Britain and simply "broccoli" in North America. It has large (10 to 20 cm) green heads and thick stalks and is named after Calabria in Italy. It is a cool season annual crop. Sprouting broccoli has a larger number of heads with many thin stalks. It is planted in May to be harvested during the winter or early the following year in temperate climates. The heirloom variety "calabrese" available in North America is of this type.
Romanesco broccoli has a distinctive fractal appearance of its heads, and is yellow-green in colour. It is technically in the Botrytis (cauliflower) cultivar group. Purple cauliflower is a type of broccoli sold in southern Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. It has a head shaped like cauliflower, but consisting of tiny flower buds. It sometimes, but not always, has a purple cast to the tips of the flower buds.
China and India are the top producers of cauliflower and broccoli. About half of all cauliflower is raised in China and one fourth in India. In Europe, production has been in Spain since about 1990. In North America, production is primarily in California.
Broccoli Author: Quadell (Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0)