Brussels sprouts is an unusual looking plant. The plant produces large upper leaves above a long stem with small sprouts growing out of the stem that look like miniature cabbages. They are sometimes considered to be the delicacy of the cruciferous vegetables due to their mild flavor when grown in appropriate weather and when cared for and harvested properly. Although they look very different from cauliflower and broccoli, they, along with cabbage, are all the same species descending from a common ancestral plant.
Brussels sprouts are appropriately named because they were first cultivated in large quantities near Brussels, Belgium. The sprouts were sold in Brussels' markets in the 1200's, but they did not become a popular vegetable item until much later.
By the time of the American Revolution, Brussels Sprouts were consumed widely in England and France due to its adaptation to the English and French climates. The plant is hardy enough to harvest well into the mild English winters.
As with many other vegetable crops uncommon in the colonies at that time, records show that Thomas Jefferson, grew them in his gardens. He introduced Brussels sprouts to North America in 1812.
Brussels sprouts are very nourishing. They are high in vitamin C. and provides significant amounts of vitamin A, thiamine, iron, potassium, phosphorous, and calcium.
Varieties grow to heights from 18" to 3" tall, with the florets spaced at larger intervals along the stems of taller varieties. The dwarf type is commonly grown in the United States. Taller varieties require longer growing seasons than their dwarf counterparts.