Broccoli is an edible green plant in the cabbage family (family Brassicaceae, genus Brassica) whose large flowering head, stalk and small associated leaves are eaten as a vegetable. The word broccoli comes from the Italian plural of broccolo, which means "the flowering crest of a cabbage", and is the diminutive form of brocco, meaning "small nail" or "sprout".[3]

Broccoli and cross section edit.jpg
SpeciesBrassica oleracea
Cultivar groupitalica
OriginItaly, more than 2,000 years ago[1][2]

Broccoli is classified in the Italica cultivar group of the species Brassica oleracea. Broccoli has large flower heads, usually dark green in color, arranged in a tree-like structure branching out from a thick stalk which is usually light green. The mass of flower heads is surrounded by leaves. Broccoli resembles cauliflower, which is a different cultivar group of the same Brassica species. In 2017, China and India combined produced 73% of the world's broccoli and cauliflower crops.[4]

Broccoli resulted from breeding of cultivated Brassica crops in the northern Mediterranean starting in about the sixth century BC.[5] Broccoli has its origins in primitive cultivars grown in the Roman Empire and was most likely domesticated in the Southern Italian Peninsula or Sicily [6][7][8]. It is eaten raw or cooked. Broccoli is a particularly rich source of vitamin C and vitamin K. Contents of its characteristic sulfur-containing glucosinolate compounds, isothiocyanates and sulforaphane, are diminished by boiling, but are better preserved by steaming, microwaving or stir-frying.[9]

Rapini, sometimes called "broccoli raab" among other names, forms similar but smaller heads, and is actually a type of turnip (Brassica rapa).

Other cultivar groups of Brassica oleraceaEdit

Broccoli plants in a nursery
Close-ups of broccoli florets (click to enlarge)

Other cultivar groups of Brassica oleracea include cabbage (Capitata Group), cauliflower and Romanesco broccoli (Botrytis Group), kale (Acephala Group), collard (Viridis Group), kohlrabi (Gongylodes Group), Brussels sprouts (Gemmifera Group), and kai-lan (Alboglabra Group).[10] Broccolini or "Tenderstem broccoli" is a cross between broccoli and Chinese broccoli [11].


There are three commonly grown types of broccoli [7]. The most familiar is Calabrese broccoli, often referred to simply as "broccoli", named after Calabria in Italy. It has large (10 to 20 cm) green heads and thick stalks. It is a cool-season annual crop. Sprouting broccoli (white or purple) has a larger number of heads with many thin stalks.[12] Purple cauliflower is a type of broccoli grown in Europe and North America. It has a head shaped like cauliflower, but consisting of tiny flower buds. It sometimes, but not always, has a purple cast to the tips of the flower buds.

Other popular cultivars include Belstar, Blue Wind, Coronado Crown, Destiny, DiCicco, Green Goliath, Green Magic, Purple Sprouting, Romanesco, Sun King and Waltham 29.[13][14]

Beneforté is a variety of broccoli containing 2–3 times more glucoraphanin and produced by crossing broccoli with a wild Brassica variety, Brassica oleracea var villosa.[15]


In 2017, global production of broccoli (combined for production reports with cauliflowers) was 26.0 million tonnes, with China and India together accounting for 73% of the world total.[4] Secondary producers, each having about one million tonnes or less annually, were the United States, Spain, Mexico and Italy.

In the United States, broccoli is grown year-round in California – which produces 92% of the crop nationally – with 95% of the total crop produced for fresh sales.[16]

Broccoli production — 2017
(includes cauliflower)
Country Production
millions of tonnes
  United States
Source: FAOSTAT of the United Nations[4]


The majority of broccoli cultivars are cool-weather crops that do poorly in hot summer weather. Broccoli grows best when exposed to an average daily temperature between 18 and 23 °C (64 and 73 °F).[17][18] When the cluster of flowers, also referred to as a "head" of broccoli, appear in the center of the plant, the cluster is generally green. Garden pruners or shears are used to cut the head about an inch from the tip. Broccoli should be harvested before the flowers on the head bloom bright yellow.[19]


Mostly introduced by accident to North America, Australia and New Zealand, "cabbage worms", the larvae of Pieris rapae, also known as the "small white" butterfly, are a common pest in broccoli.[20]

Additional pests common to broccoli production include [21]:


Broccoli, boiled (edible parts)
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy141 kJ (34 kcal)
6.64 g
Sugars1.7 g
Dietary fiber2.6 g
0.37 g
2.82 g
VitaminsQuantity %DV
Vitamin A equiv.
31 μg
361 μg
1403 μg
Thiamine (B1)
0.071 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.117 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.639 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.573 mg
Vitamin B6
0.175 mg
Folate (B9)
63 μg
19 mg
Vitamin C
89.2 mg
Vitamin E
0.78 mg
Vitamin K
101.6 μg
MineralsQuantity %DV
47 mg
0.73 mg
21 mg
0.21 mg
66 mg
316 mg
33 mg
0.41 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water89.3 g

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

A 100 gram reference serving of raw broccoli provides 34 calories and is a rich source (20% or higher of the Daily Value, DV) of vitamin C (107% DV) and vitamin K (97% DV) (table). Raw broccoli also contains moderate amounts (10–19% DV) of several B vitamins and the dietary mineral manganese, whereas other micronutrients are low in content (less than 10% DV). Raw broccoli is 89% water, 7% carbohydrates, 3% protein, and contains negligible fat (table).


Boiling substantially reduces the levels of broccoli glucosinolates, while other cooking methods, such as steaming, microwaving, and stir frying, have no significant effect on glucosinolate levels.[9]


The perceived bitterness of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli varies from person to person, but the functional underpinnings of this variation are not known. Some research reports that the gene TAS2R38 may be responsible for bitter taste perception in broccoli.[22] Other factors, such as isothiocyanates and polyphenols, are also likely involved in bitterness perception.[23] In some varieties the normally bitter tasting compounds are in less volatile forms.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Buck, P. A (1956). "Origin and taxonomy of broccoli". Economic Botany. 10 (3): 250–253. doi:10.1007/bf02899000. S2CID 31365713.
  2. ^ Stephens, James. "Broccoli—Brassica oleracea L. (Italica group)". University of Florida. p. 1. Retrieved 14 May 2009.
  3. ^ "broccoli". Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.). 2004. p. 156. ISBN 978-0-87779-809-5. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  4. ^ a b c "Broccoli (and cauliflower) production in 2017, Crops/Regions/World list/Production Quantity (pick lists)". UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Corporate Statistical Database (FAOSTAT). 2018. Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  5. ^ Maggioni, Lorenzo; Bothmer, Roland; Poulsen, Gert; Branca, Ferdinando (2010). "Origin and Domestication of Cole Crops (Brassica oleracea L.): Linguistic and Literary Considerations". Economic Botany. 64 (2): 109–123. doi:10.1007/s12231-010-9115-2. S2CID 2771884.
  6. ^ Nonnecke, Ib (November 1989). Vegetable Production. Springer-Verlag New York, LLC. p. 394. ISBN 978-0-442-26721-6.
  7. ^ a b Stansell, Zachary; Björkman, Thomas (1 October 2020). "From landrace to modern hybrid broccoli: the genomic and morphological domestication syndrome within a diverse B. oleracea collection". Horticulture Research. 7 (1): 1–17. doi:10.1038/s41438-020-00375-0. ISSN 2052-7276.
  8. ^ Stansell, Zachary; Hyma, Katie; Fresnedo-Ramírez, Jonathan; Sun, Qi; Mitchell, Sharon; Björkman, Thomas; Hua, Jian (1 July 2018). "Genotyping-by-sequencing of Brassica oleracea vegetables reveals unique phylogenetic patterns, population structure and domestication footprints". Horticulture Research. 5 (1): 1–10. doi:10.1038/s41438-018-0040-3. ISSN 2052-7276.
  9. ^ a b Nugrahedi, Probo Y.; Verkerk, Ruud; Widianarko, Budi; Dekker, Matthijs (2015). "A Mechanistic Perspective on Process-Induced Changes in Glucosinolate Content in Brassica Vegetables: A Review". Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 55 (6): 823–838. doi:10.1080/10408398.2012.688076. ISSN 1040-8398. PMID 24915330. S2CID 25728864.
  10. ^ Dixon, G.R. (2007). Vegetable brassicas and related crucifers. Wallingford: CABI. ISBN 978-0-85199-395-9.
  11. ^ Stansell, Zachary; Farnham, Mark; Björkman, Thomas (2019). "Complex Horticultural Quality Traits in Broccoli Are Illuminated by Evaluation of the Immortal BolTBDH Mapping Population". Frontiers in Plant Science. 10. doi:10.3389/fpls.2019.01104. ISSN 1664-462X.
  12. ^ "Broccoli". (Royal Horticultural Society). Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  13. ^ "The Best Broccoli Varieties to Grow Your Own |Gardeners Path". Gardener's Path. 28 June 2018.
  14. ^ Stansell, Zachary; Hyma, Katie; Fresnedo-Ramírez, Jonathan; Sun, Qi; Mitchell, Sharon; Björkman, Thomas; Hua, Jian (1 July 2018). "Genotyping-by-sequencing of Brassica oleracea vegetables reveals unique phylogenetic patterns, population structure and domestication footprints". Horticulture Research. 5 (1): 1–10. doi:10.1038/s41438-018-0040-3. ISSN 2052-7276.
  15. ^ "British research leads to UK-wide launch of Beneforté broccoli". Quadram Institute. 25 June 2012. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  16. ^ "Broccoli". Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, US Department of Agriculture. 1 June 2018. Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  17. ^ Smith, Powell (June 1999). "HGIC 1301 Broccoli". Clemson University. Retrieved 25 August 2009.
  18. ^ Branham, Sandra E.; Stansell, Zachary J.; Couillard, David M.; Farnham, Mark W. (1 March 2017). "Quantitative trait loci mapping of heat tolerance in broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica) using genotyping-by-sequencing". Theoretical and Applied Genetics. 130 (3): 529–538. doi:10.1007/s00122-016-2832-x. ISSN 1432-2242.
  19. ^ {{cite encyclopedia|title = Broccoli|last = Liptay|first = Albert|year = 1988|publisher =
  20. ^ editors, J. Richard and Joan E. Heitzman; Jim Rathert, principal photographer; Kathy Love and LuAnne Larsen (1996). Butterflies and moths of Missouri. Jefferson City, MO: Missouri Dept. of Conservation. ISBN 1-887247-06-8.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  21. ^ May 4, Factsheet | HGIC 2203 | Updated:; Download, 2020 | Print |. "Cabbage, Broccoli & Other Cole Crop Insect Pests". Home & Garden Information Center | Clemson University, South Carolina. Retrieved 28 November 2020.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  22. ^ Lipchock SV, Mennella JA, Spielman AI, Reed DR (2013). "Human bitter perception correlates with bitter receptor messenger RNA expression in taste cells". Am J Clin Nutr. 98 (4): 1136–43. doi:10.3945/ajcn.113.066688. PMC 3778862. PMID 24025627.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  23. ^ Wooding S, Gunn H, Ramos P, Thalmann S, Xing C, Meyerhof W (2010). "Genetics and bitter taste responses to goitrin, a plant toxin found in vegetables". Chem Senses. 35 (8): 685–92. doi:10.1093/chemse/bjq061. PMID 20551074.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)

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