Know your Cauliflower

  • Cauliflower is one of several vegetables in the species Brassica oleracea, in the family Brassicaceae. 

  • It is an annual plant that reproduces by seed. 

  • Typically, only the head (the white curd) of aborted floral meristems is eaten, while the stalk and surrounding thick, green leaves are used in vegetable broth or discarded. 

  • Cauliflower is nutritious, and may be eaten cooked, raw or pickled.

  • Its name is from Latin caulis (cabbage) and flower, an acknowledgment of its unusual place among a family of food plants which normally produces only leafy greens for eating. 

  • Brassica oleracea also includes cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli and collard greens, though they are of different cultivar groups.


  • For such a highly modified plant, cauliflower has a long history. François Pierre La Varenne employed chouxfleurs in Le cuisinier françois.  

  • They had been introduced to France from Genoa in the 16th century, and are featured in Olivier de Serres' Théâtre de l'agriculture (1600), as cauli-fiori "as the Italians call it, which are still rather rare in France; they hold an honorable place in the garden because of their delicacy," but they did not commonly appear on grand tables until the time of Louis XIV.

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