If you went to the greengrocer and bought cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts and kohlrabi you may have bought six vegetables but you have only bought one species of plant: Brassica oleracea.

Wild cabbage has been known for thousands of years and was bred for more tender tasty leaves known as kale or collard greens. The round leafy vegetable most people think of as “cabbage” was developed when growers selected plants for tighter clusters of tender leaves closely packed into the terminal bud. Brussel sprouts were the same plant selected for multiple tightly packed leaf buds along the stem. Cauliflower comes from cabbage plants selected for tightly packed masses of tender flower buds and broccoli is very similar, where the plants have been bred for clusters of immature flower heads. Kohlrabi are sometimes called stem turnips and are kale plants selected for short fleshy stems.

If you don’t like eating any of these, you can still enjoy cabbages as ornamental plants as some have been bred for colourful, frilled leaves. You can even lean on a six foot cabbage stem if you wish, as the plant named “Walking Stick Cabbage” or “Jersey Cabbage” has a long strong stem that can be dried and prepared to make lightweight but strong walking sticks. It was originally bred as animal food, as new edible leaves keep appearing at the top as the stem increases in height.

Editorial Comment: Darwin used known examples of selectively bred domestic plants and animals to persuade people that one kind of living organism can change into another by selection, even though he knew that all examples he chose were within the same species. The great variation we have deliberately selected in the cabbage plant is evidence that selection really can bring out the already built in variation within a kind. Despite the superficial differences produced, the separate varieties of cabbages can still be interbred and all return to the wild cabbage form when left to themselves over several generations. This is all good evidence for creation of separate fully functional kinds. No Darwinian evolution of any sort has been involved in any of changes that have occurred over the centuries as plant breeders have selected desirable features and bred them. The tasty, nutritious vegetables developed by generations of farmers and gardeners is a proper fulfilment of the commission given by God to man to rule over the earth (Genesis 1:28). This was not permission to exploit and destroy the earth, but a mandate to study the earth and make wise use of the resources that God provided. (Ref. Brassicas, cultivation, botany)

Evidence News, 19 Nov 2009