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A picture of a Cavolo Nero

Cavolo Nero

Brassica oleracea (Acephala Group) 'Bumpy-Leaf Kale'

Also known as

Black Cabbage, Tuscan Kale, Tuscan Cabbage, Lacinato, Dinosaur Kale

Photo by Jo.Baker (All rights reserved)

Full Sun
Easy care
Moderate watering
Frost Hardy

8a

USDA zone

-12°C

Minimum temperature

Expected size

Height
Spread

1m

Max

40cm

50cm

Min

20cm

Flowering

  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has no fragrance

Cavolo Nero Overview

Brassica oleracea 'Bumpy-Leaf Kale' (Acephala Group) is most commonly known as Cavolo Nero, the Italian for Black Cabbage. Attractive and tall-growing kale that forms very dark green leaves with a bluish hue, that can be harvested repeatedly, all year round. Exceptionally rich in nutrients, it is a favourite choice of cooks because of its particular flavour and texture. It has been cultivated since the 1700’s and it is still widely grown in Italy. Also known as Black or Tuscan Kale, it can also be grown for ornamental purposes in a mixed border. If left to go to seed, yellow flowers are produced in Summer.

Common problems with Cavolo Nero

Susceptible to a number of pests and diseases, keep a regular eye for any signs of damage. In particular from Cabbage Caterpillars of which several species of moth & butterflies feed on the brassica family. Commonly seen in autumn are the large cabbage white butterfly caterpillars that are yellow and black with obvious hairs on their bodies. Options for control are to remove by hand, spray with insecticides containing pyrethrum or biological control by using a product that helps with the bacterium control of moth larvae such as Dipel (Bacillus thuringiensis).

How to harvest Cavolo Nero

From about 2-3 months after planting, leaves are harvested by breaking or cutting 2-3 at a time, preferably from the bottom up. The bright yellow flowers are formed as the plants mature which can 60-90 days after sowing or up to 18months later. If allowed, it will easily self-seed.

How to propagate Cavolo Nero

Seed

Seed sown in seed trays and grown on for about 4-5 weeks until seedlings are 10cm tall and strong enough for planting out. Sow in Summer and Autumn. Germination time is 7-12 days.

Special features of Cavolo Nero

Crop rotation

It is a medium feeder. Follow after a crop that was treated generously with organic matter such as celery, eggplant, onions, peas, peppers, squash, tomatoes, clover.

Attractive leaves

Other uses of Cavolo Nero

Edible