The Different Varieties of Broccoli

Home gardeners – amateurs and experts alike – have plenty of varieties to choose from if they want to grow broccoli in their own backyard.

Generally, broccoli has three main types: calabrese, romanesco and the sprouting variety. Of the three, calabrese is what we are most familiar of. It has a large blue-green head with thick stalks. Also called Italian Green Sprouting, this is the broccoli cultivar most farmers grow and what we see sold in fresh markets.

Romanesco Broccoli can easily be distinguished by the form of its head which is spiral shaped. It produces multiple heads that has an apple-green color. It is physically more similar to cauliflower but with a slightly looser and pointed head. It also tastes better than most broccoli cultivars.

The sprouting variety forms no main head but instead produces multiple small heads with thin stalks. They are bushy and very productive as they have a long harvest season. Sprouting broccoli thrives in areas with mild winters.

It can also be further divided into two subtypes – the purple and white variety.

Purple sprouting broccoli, as the name suggests, is purple. However, it is only purple when it’s fresh. Once cooked, it turns green. This broccoli type is often used in salads and as a garnish in dishes because of its mild, tasty flavor.

The white variety is very similar to cauliflower because of its color that is why a lot of people confuse them together. This broccoli type is more commonly found in Italy.

Over the years, broccoli cultivars continue to grow and develop. Today, hybrids have larger heads with a lighter color. With the many broccoli varieties available today, it is possible to harvest this vegetable almost all throughout the year grown in warmer climates.

Recently, a hybrid combination of broccoli and cauliflower has been developed and aptly called “broccoflower.” It has a yellow green color with a taste that’s a cross between its parents. Thus, the confusion has been fueled by wondering if it’s a broccoli, a broccolini or a cauliflower.

Other popular broccoli types include Packman, George’s Best, Green Comet, De Cicco, Green Goliath, Cruiser and Premium Crop.