Headed Cabbage - Origin & Distribution

In the following article, a series of totally unnecessary articles are being launched, dedicated this time to Headed Cabbage.

Its humble overestimated origin and the impudence distribution will concern us here, without being misled by the pompous name of Brassica oleracea var. capitata.

It will be followed by the unfavorable classification, its suspect typology, its so-called nutritional value and, of course, all the necessary information on the non-cultivation of that plant will be given.

In other words, it is in the middle of the summer and the unbearable heat has no effect on us.

CONTENTS

Red Headed Cabbage (Brassica Oleracea Var. Capitata F. Rubra)
Brassica Oleracea Var. Capitata F. Rubra. Red cabbage in the field at the time of harvest.

Headed Cabbage Origin

Headed Cabbage – Origin & Distribution 

Headed Cabbage - Head of Brassica oleracea var. capitata - © Gerald Holmes, California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, Bugwood.org
Head and leaves of Brassica oleracea var. capitata - © Gerald Holmes, California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, Bugwood.org

Origin of the Headed Cabbage Name Brassica oleracea var. capitata - Etymology

The etymology of the name of the Brassica genus is more or less uncertain. Some scholars have suggested as a source the Celtic word for Cabbage ‘bresic’ or ‘bresych’, which is a contraction of ‘praesecare’, which means ‘cut off early’ – possibly due to the early autumn leaf harvest of the plant.

Herman Boerhaave, from the not so far 1727, proposes the Greek word ‘αποτουβράξει-υ, which in Latin becomes ‘vorare’ and means ‘to devour’.

At the present time, the humble contribution of the editorial team of ‘Kalliergeia’ to the issue, is that the name Brassica probably comes from the Ancient Greek word ‘βράσσω’. The word βράσσω’ (or ‘βράττω’ in the Attic dialect) means ζέω’. Anyone who has attempted to cook Headed Cabbage can very easily say, keeping his nose closed, that ‘ζέω’ in simple Greek means ‘boil’.

Far away from doubt – and fortunately – the origin of the species name ‘oleracea’ leaves no room for misinterpretation because it comes from the Latin words ‘Olus, oleris’ meaning ‘vegetables’ and ‘of the vegetables’ respectively.

The same applies to the name of the variety ‘capitata’. The word comes from the Latin ‘caput’, which simply means ‘head’.

Headed Cabbage – Origin & Distribution 

Κεφαλωτό Λάχανο - Τομή Κεφαλωτού Λάχανου - © Gerald Holmes, California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, Bugwood.org
Intersection Of Headed Cabbage in the Field - © Gerald Holmes, California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, Bugwood.org

Origin of the Headed Cabbage Plant Brassica oleracea var. capitata

The geographical origin of Brassica oleracea Cabbage is located in the coastal regions of Southeastern Europe, Asia Minor and Middle East.

But for Headed Cabbage, Brassica oleracea var. capitata, its geographical and botanical origin is located between its wild ancestors and in particular – mainly – in the variety Brassica oleraceae var. oleracea.

Brassica oleraceae var. oleracea is native to the coastal regions of Western Europe. Its populations are recorded along the Atlantic coasts of Northern Spain, France, United Kingdom, and at the Helgoland Islands of Germany, while at least one population of the variety was formerly known in Ireland.

Headed Cabbage – Origin & Distribution 

Headed Cabbage in Longitudinal Section - © Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org
Whole Headed Cabbage in Longitudinal Section - © Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

Beginning & Distribution of the Headed Cabbage Cultivation

Initially, they were the peoples of the European South and the coastal regions of Asia Minor and the Middle East that systematically cultivated the Headed Cabbage. Of course, this Headed Cabbage included those types of the plant that had been fully adapted to the Mediterranean climate, that is to say, some forms of Curly Headed Cabbages.

When and from which the cultivation spread to the rest of Europe, can not be said with precision. Some scholars suggest the Romans, while others attribute this honor to the Celts.

The most likely, however, is their dissemination by the Celts and Scandinavian peoples rather than by the Romans during the Empire.

One of the arguments of supporters of the first view is that Celts, since the 6th century BC, had visited the Mediterranean South, probably for tourist purposes, and at some point in the 3rd century BC they went also a walk to Asia Minor.

Another equally strong argument is that the roots of the names of most botanical varieties of Cabbage are of Celtic origin.

Third in a row, but not necessarily in the order, convincing argument is that Celts were the ones who developed the low-temperature hard-heading, White and Red Cabbage.

Headed Cabbage – Origin & Distribution 

Headed Cabbage - Ruellius - Jean Ruel, the Original Cover of the book 'Veterinariae medicinae'
Ruellius - Jean Ruel, the Original Cover of the book 'Veterinariae medicinae'

Scripta Trace for Brassica oleracea var. capitata Cultivation

Until the 11th century AD, there is none historical presumption that testifies to the existence and cultivation anywhere in Europe – and certainly in the World – of the White and Red Headed Cabbage.

But in the following century, in the texts of the German – philosopher, theologian, but perhaps even the most important religious leader in the 12th century Europe – Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), in which medical, botanical and theological issues are being developed, there is the first clear historical reference, giving evidence of the White and Red Headed Cabbage existence.

Next chronological evidence is provided by Albertus Magnus (or Albert of Cologne, 1193-1280), philosopher, theologian and saint of the Roman Catholic Church. In his book ‘De vegetabilibus et plantis’, written about 1250, there is a reference to Headed Cabbage types that are outlined by the word ‘caputium’ – that means ‘hood’ – but without any description of the plant.

The complete description of the plant is done by the French botanist Ioannes Ruellius (Jean Ruel, 1474 – 1537), in the work of ‘De natura stirpium published in Paris one year before his death.

In this, on page 477, it refers to the words ‘capucos coles’, ‘cabutos’ to Headed Cabbages, giving even the information that the heads are globular and large, with a diameter often reaching 45 cm.

Headed Cabbage – Origin & Distribution 

The Red Headed Cabbage Brassica Oleracea Var. Capitata F. Rubra
The Red Headed Cabbage Brassica Oleracea Var. Capitata F. Rubra, along with the White, the Curly and the Brussels sprout forms the Headed Cabbage group

The Headed Cabbage Today in the World

Headed Cabbage, which is one of the most important economic crops, is now found in many parts of the world. Larger producer countries are China, India, Russia, Poland and Japan. Russia is the largest consuming country in the world.

The world production of Cabbage for 2017 is given in the following table:

World Cabbage Production

RANKCOUNTRYPRODUCTION (in tonnes)
1China32,800,000
2India8,500,000
3Russia3,309,315
4Japan2,300,000
5South Korea2,118,930
6Ukraine1,922,400
7Indonesia1,487,531
8Poland1,198,726
9Romania990,154
10United States964,830

Headed Cabbage – Origin & Distribution 

Headed Cabbage, Origin & Distribution - References

The References of the penetrating article Headed Cabbage – Origin & Distribution presents the American music band Supertramp, offering breakfast: Breakfast In America.

  1. Dixon, G. R. (2007). Vegetable brassicas and related crucifers. Oxon: CABI.
  2. Gates, R. R. (1953). Wild cabbage and the effects of cultivation. Journal of Genetics, 51, 363-372.
  3. Preston, C. D., Pearman, D. A., & Dines, T. D. (2002). New atlas of the British and Irish flora. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  4. Snogerup, S., Gustafsson, M., & Bothmer von, R. (1990). Brassica sect. Brassica (Brassicaceae). I. Taxonomy and variation. Willdenowia, 19, 271–365.
  5. Χα, Ι., & Πετρόπουλος, Σ. (2014). Γενική Λαχανοκομία και Υπαίθρια Καλλιέργεια Λαχανικών [Principles of Vegetable Production and Field Cultivation of Vegetables]. Βόλος: Πανεπιστημιακές Εκδόσεις Θεσσαλίας.

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