Collards, Collard Greens

Brassica olerácea, Acephala Group

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See also: KALES

Collards (the term is usually plural, like grits) are a form of kale, an ancient plant of Eurasian origin that represents the oldest cultivated form of cabbage—and is still much the same as it has been for two millennia. Thick-leaved, dense, and cabbagey in flavor, collards are sturdier and stronger than most kales. Taxonomy confuses rather than helps define them, for kale and collards share a classification. (Acephala, meaning headless, is the designation that separates most kale and collards from other cabbages, for the two grow in loose bouquet form—not a tight head.) The great American botanist Liberty Hyde Bailey hoped that future generations could improve upon his classification, which he described in his revision of the Manual of Cultivated Plants (1949) as “a name of somewhat indefinite application, perhaps to be discarded as a systematic category when the cult, races have received greater study.” But it is still in place.