Welcome to “Beyond Broccoli”! In my next several monthly posts, I’m taking a deep dive into the genus Brassica and its place in our vegetable gardens. In this first installment, I’ll be exploring the classification of these plants and where they fit into the plant world.
Brassica is (logically enough) part of the family Brassicaceae, which is pretty huge, containing approximately 372 genera and 4060 species. Most of these are not common garden plants, though plenty are; examples include sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima), honesty (Lunaria annua), and stock or gillyflower (Matthiola incana). Other notable plants in this family include Arabidopsis thaliana or thale cress, used as a model organism in many scientific studies, and Allilaria petiolata or garlic mustard, a persistent weed many of us fight back for years. One way to get rid of your garlic mustard is to eat it—it’s strong-tasting but great to mix with other greens. Many Brassicaceae plants are edible, though of course not all; always investigate before ingesting.Continue reading