Collard refers to certain loose-leafed cultivars of Brassica oleracea, the same species as many common vegetables, including cabbage (Capitata Group) and broccoli (Botrytis Group). Collard is part of the Acephala Group of the species, which includes kale and spring greens. They are in the same cultivar group owing to their genetic similarity. The name "collard" comes from the word "colewort" (the wild cabbage plant).
A bundle of collard greens
|Cultivar group||Acephala Group|
|Cultivar group members||Many; see text.|
The plants are grown for their large, dark-colored, edible leaves and as a garden ornamental, mainly in Brazil, Portugal, the southern United States, many parts of Africa, the Balkans, northern Spain, and Kashmir. Collard greens have been eaten for at least 2000 years, with evidence showing that the ancient Greeks cultivated several types of collard, as well as kale.
The cultivar group name Acephala ("without a head" in Greek) refers to the fact that this variety of B. oleracea does not have the close-knit core of leaves (a "head") like cabbage does, making collards more tolerant of high humidity levels and less susceptible to fungal diseases. The plant is a biennial where winter frost occurs; some varieties may be perennial in warmer regions. It has an upright stalk, often growing over two feet tall. The plant is very similar to kale. Popular cultivars of collard greens include 'Georgia Southern', 'Vates', 'Morris Heading', 'Blue Max', 'Top Bunch', 'Butter Collard' (couve manteiga), couve tronchuda, and Groninger Blauw. In Africa it is commonly known as Sukuma (East Africa), Muriwo or umBhida (Southern Africa).
The plant is commercially cultivated for its thick, slightly bitter, edible leaves. They are available year-round, but are tastier and more nutritious in the cold months, after the first frost. For best texture, the leaves are picked before they reach their maximum size, at which stage they are thicker and are cooked differently from the new leaves. Age does not affect flavor. Flavor and texture also depend on the cultivar; the couve manteiga and couve tronchuda are especially appreciated in Brazil and Portugal.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||137 kJ (33 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||4 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)|
|†Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults. |
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Raw collard greens are 90% water, 6% carbohydrates, 3% protein, and contain negligible fat (table). Like kale, collard greens contain substantial amounts of vitamin K (388% of the Daily Value, DV) in a 100 gram serving. Collard greens are rich sources (20% or more of DV) of vitamin A, vitamin C, and manganese, and moderate sources of calcium and vitamin B6. A 100 gram serving of cooked collard greens provides 33 calories.
Collard greens are known as sukuma wiki in Tanzania and Kenya. Sukuma wiki is mainly lightly sauteed in oil until tender, flavoured with onions and seasoned with salt, and served either as the main accompaniment or as a side dish with the preferred meat (fish, chicken, beef, or pork). In Congo, Tanzania and Kenya (East Africa), thinly sliced collard greens are the main accompaniments of a popular dish known as sima or ugali (a maize flour cake).
Collards have been cultivated in Europe for thousands of years with references to the Greeks and Romans back to the 1st Century. In Montenegro, Dalmatia and Herzegovina, collard greens, locally known as raštika or raštan, were traditionally one of the staple vegetables. It is particularly popular in the winter, stewed with smoked mutton (kaštradina) or cured pork, root vegetables and potatoes.
Southern United States
Collard greens are a staple vegetable in Southern U.S. cuisine. They are often prepared with other similar green leaf vegetables, such as spinach, kale, turnip greens, and mustard greens in the dish called "mixed greens". Typically used in combination with collard greens are smoked and salted meats (ham hocks, smoked turkey drumsticks, smoked turkey necks, pork neckbones, fatback or other fatty meat), diced onions, vinegar, salt, and black pepper, white pepper, or crushed red pepper, and some cooks add a small amount of sugar. Traditionally, collards are eaten on New Year's Day, along with black-eyed peas or field peas and cornbread, to ensure wealth in the coming year. Cornbread is used to soak up the "pot liquor", a nutrient-rich collard broth. Collard greens may also be thinly sliced and fermented to make a collard sauerkraut that is often cooked with flat dumplings.
In Zimbabwe, collard greens are known as mbida in Ndebele and muriwo in Shona. Due to the climate, mbida/muriwo thrives under almost all conditions, with most people growing it in their gardens. It is commonly eaten with Sadza (ugali in West & East Africa, pap in South Africa and polenta in Italy) as part of the staple food. Mbida/Muriwo is normally wilted in boiling water before being fried and combined with sautéd onions and/or tomato. Some (more traditionally, the Shona people) add beef, pork and other meat to the mbida mix for a type of stew. Most people eat mbida on a regular basis in Zimbabwe as it is economical and as previously mentioned, can be grown with little to no effort in one's own garden. Mubida/Muriwo is so common there one of the country's top musicians Jah Prayzah did a song on the meal
Brazil and Portugal
Thinly-sliced collard greens are also a main part of the popular Portuguese soup, caldo verde ("green broth"). For this broth, the leaves are sliced into strips, 2–3 millimetres (0.079–0.118 in) wide (sometimes by a grocer or market vendor using a special hand-cranked slicer) and added to the other ingredients 15 minutes before it is served.
In the Kashmir Valley, collard greens (haakh) are included in most meals. Leaves in the bud are harvested by pinching in early spring when the dormant buds sprout and give out tender leaves. Also, seedlings after 35–40 days (3,000–3,500 ks), as well as mature plants, are pulled out along with roots from thickly sown beds. When the extending stem bears alternate leaves in quick succession during the growing season, older leaves are harvested periodically. Before autumn, the apical portion of the stem is removed along with the whorled leaves. There are several dishes made with haakh which is often prepared with spices, condiments or garnishing. Water, oil, salt and green chilies are typical ingredients. The small collard green leaves of spring are known as kaanyil haakh. A common dish is haak rus, a soup of whole collard leaves cooked in water, salt and oil along with many other spices, which is usually eaten with rice.
The sting nematode Belonolaimus gracilis and the awl nematode, Dolichodorus spp. are both ectoparasites that can injure collard. Root symptoms include, stubby or coarse roots that are dark at the tips. Shoot symptoms include, stunted growth, premature wilting and chlorosis (Nguyen and Smart, 1975). Another species of the sting worm,Belonolaimus longicaudatus is a pest of collards in Georgia and North Carolina (Robbins and Barker, 1973). B. longicaudatus is devastating to seedlings and transplants. As few as three nematodes per 100g of soil when transplanting can cause significant yield losses on susceptible plants. They are most common in sandy soils (Noling, 2012).
The stubby root nematodes Trichodorus and Paratrichodorus attach and feed near the tip of collard's taproots. The damage caused prevents proper root elongation leading to tight mats that could appear swollen, therefore resulting in a "stubby root" (Noling, 2012).
Several species of the root knot nematode Meloidogyne spp. infest collards. These include: M. javanica, M. incognita and M. arenaria. Second-stage juveniles attack the plant and settle in the roots. However, infestation seems to occur at lower populations compared to other cruciferous plants. Root symptoms include deformation (galls) and injury that prevent proper water and nutrient uptake. This could eventually lead to stunting, wilting and chlorosis of the shoots (Crow and Dunn, 2012).
The false root knot nematode Nacobbus aberrans has a wide host range of up to 84 species including many weeds. On Brassicas it has been reported in several states, including Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Montana, South Dakota, and Kansas (Manzanilla- López et al., 2002). As a pest of collards, the degree of damage is dependent upon the nematode population in the soil.
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Media related to Brassica oleracea var. viridis at Wikimedia Commons