Plant Name: Brassicaceae (Cruciferae)
Plant Family: Brassicaceae (Cruciferae)
Scientific Name: Brassica campestris var. Pekinensis
As the name implies, Chinese cabbage is native to eastern Asia and possibly Japan. The plant is mentioned in Chinese literature from the 5th century A.D., but was used much earlier than that.
Chinese traders carried these plants to Malaya and the East Indies. They made their way to Europe during the mid 1700's, but were considered novelty plants for more than 100 years. Various missionaries to the Orient sent cabbage seeds back to Europe, but it failed to catch on as a food until it was reintroduced later.
There has long been confusion over the botanical identity of Chinese cabbage because Chinese breeding work has created a vast diversity of species. Cabbages preferred in the U.S. are typically much smaller than those grown in the orient.
Although it is related to Chinese mustard, the flavor of Chinese cabbage is not as pungent.