Plants You Should Know: Walking Stick Kale

Walking Stick Kale

Walking Stick Kale

There is little information available on Brassica Oleracea var. Longata  aka Walking Stick Kale/Tree kale/Walking Stick Cabbage other than some history and a few blog posts on the subject. One of those plants that has been slightly forgotten over time, it is still incredibly cool and multipurpose. Growing 6 – 10 feet in a single season, it produces large collard-like greens from a single woody stalk, and reminds one of a sapling-sized palm tree.  Unable to find Tree Kale seed in the US, I mail ordered a packet of seeds from a website based in the UK; a fitting source as the plants originated from the Channel Islands. On the islands they were  traditionally grown as a food crop and also used as fodder for animals. At the end of the season the knobby stalks were dried, then varnished or lacquered into walking sticks. I’m looking forward to trying this out myself.

Along with Walking Stick Kale I would also like to give Tree Collards a try. There seems to be some confusion between the two. Although Walking Stick Kale is an annual and Tree Collards can be perennial in certain zones,  both are somewhat rare plants and mirror each other in terms of height. Both also have dark green foliage, although there is a purple variety of Tree Collards.  One difference is that Tree Collards are grown from cuttings. This is due to the fact they will not grow true from seed if the parent plant flowers and produces seed at all. The knobbed but straight stem of Walking Stick Kale also differs significantly from the multi-branched growth of Tree Collards.

For this season at least, I am looking forward to nursing my Walking Stick Kale seedlings into adulthood.

Brassica Oleracea var. Longata 

Annual or short lived perennial if zone 7 or higher.

Harvest: Use leafy greens from the bottom of the stalk up.

Pollination: Self Fertile

Growing Conditions: Prefers full sun and well drained soil.

Uses: Leafy Greens, Walking sticks

 

Further info:

Further information on the history and tradition.

This site offers the most detailed information on staking/ growth and processing I could find

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