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Brassica carinata - A.Braun.

Common Name Abyssinian Cabbage
Family Brassicaceae or Cruciferae
USDA hardiness 9-12
Known Hazards The oil contained in the seed of this species is rich in erucic acid which is toxic. However, modern cultivars have been selected which are almost free of erucic acid.
Habitats An occasional bird-sown alien on waste ground in Britain.
Range N. Africa - Ethiopia. Occasional in Britain.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Half Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Brassica carinata Abyssinian Cabbage

© Robert v. Blittersdorff
Brassica carinata Abyssinian Cabbage
© Robert v. Blittersdorff


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Abyssinian cabbage, Brassica carinata, is a tropical erect plant that grows around 100 – 180 cm tall. It is a popular leaf crop in Africa and its seeds are used as relief from stomach aches. The stem is waxy, the leaves are light green and stalked, and the flower is yellow. Edible portions are the leaves, young stems, immature flowering stems, and seeds. The seed also produces edible oil that has many other uses. B. carinata can be grown as a green manure.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Brassica carinata is a ANNUAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 9 and is not frost tender. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees. The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves  Oil  Seed  Stem
Edible Uses: Condiment  Oil

Leaves and young stems - raw or cooked[2, 52, 61, 141]. Used when up to 30cm tall[183]. A mild and pleasant cabbage flavour[K], the young growth can be cut finely and used in mixed salads, whilst older leaves are cooked like cabbage leaves[183]. Immature flowering stems - cooked. Used like broccoli[183], they make a nice vegetable[K]. An edible oil is obtained from the seed[183]. Oil from the wild species is high in erucic acid, which is toxic[141], though there are some cultivars that contain very little erucic acid and can be used as food[K]. The seed can also be crushed and used as a condiment[200].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

The seed is used in the treatment of stomach aches[299].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


An oil that is high in erucic acid can be obtained from the seed[289 ]. Traditionally, it is used for oiling the baking plates of earthenware 'injera' stoves and also for illumination[299 ]. The oil finds wide application in the production of water repellents, waxes, polyesters and lubricants[418]. The seed oil is used to produce bio-diesel or special erucic acid derivatives[418]. This plant is also part of a research to develop an aviation biofuel for jet engines. Agroforestry Uses: The plant can be grown as a green manure[418].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Management: Standard  Minor Global Crop  Staple Crop: Oil  Staple Crop: Protein

This species is very tolerant of a wide range of climatic conditions and can be grown from the temperate to tropical zones. In cool temperate it is only suitable as a leaf crop, but in other areas it can also be grown for its seed. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 10 - 25°c, but can tolerate 5 - 35°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,000 - 1,500mm, but tolerates 800 - 1,700mm[418 ]. Succeeds in full sun in a well-drained fertile preferably alkaline soil[200 ]. Succeeds in any reasonable soil[52 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 8, tolerating 5 - 8.5[418 ]. Plants develop an extensive root system, larger than in other Brassica species[299 ]. There is a difference in first flowering date between oil types and vegetable types; oil types start flowering about 10 weeks after germination, vegetable cultivars after about 12 weeks, depending on cultivar and growing conditions. Flowering of vegetable cultivars is delayed by regular harvesting of the leaves or young shoots[299 ]. Plants grown in dry regions flower earlier and produce ripe seeds within 4 months from sowing[299 ]. Vegetable crops grown with adequate moisture produce seeds in 5 - 6 months[299 ]. An average leaf and shoot yield of 35 tonnes per hectare can be expected, but at research stations leaf yields of 50 - 55 tonnes have been reported[299 ]. In India and Canada farmers may get seed yields of 1,200 - 1,800 kg per hectare in a good year[299 ]. Some tall cultivars, when grown with adequate moisture, may develop new shoots after removal of the infructescences and become perennial, normally for one further season, but plants of up to 4 years old have been recorded[299 ]. Most Brassica species are cross-pollinating, which contributes to the great diversity within species. Brassica carinata is an exception as it sets seed very efficiently through self-pollination without insects acting as pollinators[299 ]. The plant does not need low temperatures for flower initiation, and seed production is therefore much easier in Africa than for most Brassica oleracea leaf cabbages except for Portuguese kale[299 ]. There are some named varieties. 'Texsel' is especially good for temperate climates, it is fast growing even at relatively low temperatures[141 , 200 ]. Research has produced a collection of lines with characteristics suitable for modern agriculture. Varieties are available, including different oil types, such as low erucic (0%) and very high erucic (+ 50%) content[289 ]. This plant is unknown in the wild. It arose as a natural amphidiploid hybrid of female B. Nigra and male B. Oleracea[289 ].

Carbon Farming

  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Minor Global Crop  These crops are already grown or traded around the world, but on a smaller scale than the global perennial staple and industrial crops, The annual value of a minor global crop is under $1 billion US. Examples include shea, carob, Brazil nuts and fibers such as ramie and sisal.
  • Staple Crop: Oil  (0-15 percent protein, 16+ percent oil). Some of these are consumed whole while others are exclusively pressed for oil. Annuals include canola, poppyseed, maize, cottonseed, sunflower, peanut. Perennials include high-oil fruits, seeds, and nuts, such as olive, coconut, avocado, oil palm, shea, pecan, and macadamia. Some perennial oil crops are consumed whole as fruits and nuts, while others are exclusively pressed for oil (and some are used fresh and for oil).
  • Staple Crop: Protein  (16+ percent protein, 0-15 percent oil). Annuals include beans, chickpeas, lentils, cowpeas, and pigeon peas. Perennials include perennial beans, nuts, leaf protein concentrates, and edible milks.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow in situ in succession from March to early September. The seed can also be sown under cloches in February when it will yield a crop in May.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Other Names: Abyssinian mustard, Ethiopian mustard, Karate, Senafich.

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Africa, Asia, Botswana, Cameroon, Central Africa, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, East Africa, Eritrea, Ethiopia, India, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Southern Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, West Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Noxious Weed Information: Michigan, US (Brassica mustard) Noxious weed

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

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Brassica juncea multicepsGreen In The SnowAnnual0.4 6-9 FLMHSNM422
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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

Paul Tout   Sat, 14 Feb 1998

Hi Rich,

Checking out PFAF's very interesting database I came across Brassica carinata.... you call the Abyssinian Cabbage. You might like to add that (for some reason) it is also known as Texsel Greens and is now popularly planted as a game cover plant in UK as an alternative to mustard after failed crops of kale or maize. In Ethiopia it is eaten as an alternative to meat during the fast of Ramadan..... prone to Brassica sickness and not viable north of Yorkshire and the Penines.

First trialled by the Game Conservancy in 1985 the seed is now widely available from game cover seed dealers.... like lots of other wacky stuff.

Funny these huntin' / vegan alliances...

I'll be in touch as I come across other crops I know a little about and when I return home in the summer I may have some seed to prop up your flagging seedless Perennial Buckwheat plants,



Elena   Thu Mar 10 13:21:31 2005

Dear Sir I would like to add few comments about Brassica carinata. In Ethiopia in additon to being used as a vegitable, a powder is made from the seeds to use as a sort of oil to apply to pans used for baking Enjera; the Ethiopian pan cake which is made of Eragrostis tef. I also have heared that Brassica carinata can resist pod shattering. May be a good source of gene in breeding programes for other Brassica species.

Negussie A. Abraha   Sun Jun 26 17:34:21 2005

I frequently cook and eat mustard greens, collard greens, and kale, among other leaf vegetables, but I find them bitter and much less delicate in their flavor, compared to the Abyssinian cabbage. Living in America, where it has not yet made it to the market - not even in California! - I sorely miss this green. Brassica carinata is indigenously known as gomen in Amharic. The vegetable is delicious when chopped well and sauteed slowly in a hot skillet with oil, minced garlic, and salt. Noog oil if you can find it is very good. (Peanut oil is a good substitute.) Cooked right, this dish is very appealing to the eyes as well.) My mom, who was famed for the dish, also added thin slices of red or white potatoes. (Saute patatoes separately in a skillet if the type of potatoe you use tends to fall apart or flake.) Incidentally, for those of you who might be interested in a little mysticism and history, it is this cabbage, celebrated in Ethiopian poetry, that the ancient Egyptians are shown carrying in beds as a token of the ithyphallic deity Min during the god's feast days. A profusely growing cabbage for the most fertile of deities. Hence the phonetic relationship between "go-men" and "Min [Men]".

Dr. Ramesh Pokharel   Fri Aug 24 2007

Hi, I need the B carinita seeds. I neeed with high toxic chemical to test against pathogens. How and where can I get the seeds. Western Colorado Research Ceter.

Ramesh pokharel   Tue Nov 6 2007

Hi, I am interested to compare this species of brassica in controlling soil borne pathogens including nematode. How and where do I get seed to try here in USA.

Marcelo Melani   Tue Nov 6 2007

To Dr Pakharel: You can find accessions of B carinata at the USDA-GRIN database. They will provide you with up to 200 seeds per accession. Best regards Marcelo Melani Canola Breeder NDSU

North Central Regional PI Station, Iowa

Bobby Johnson   Sat Feb 2 2008

Bountiful Gardens is a commercial site that sells seeds of Texsel, a brassica carnita variety, in the U.S. I just received my packet, and plan to plant them early this spring. The label indicates that the packet contains about 90 seeds.

Bountiful Gardens Seed Source

Tibebu Belete   Sat Oct 10 2009

Hi there how can i get detail information about Brasssica carinata

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