Plant Name: Brassicaceae (Cruciferae) Plant Family: Brassicaceae (Cruciferae) Scientific Name: Brassica oleracea var. Italica
Although they appear very different, kale, cabbage, kohlrabi, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts are all the same species of plant. Ancient peoples planted seeds of superior plants which eventually resulted in broccoli variations.
The first historical mention of broccoli came from the Etruscans in Asia Minor (now Turkey). As the people immigrated to Italy, they took the vegetables with them.
The Romans quickly adopted the vegetable, which was purple when raw and turned green when cooked. They developed a green variety called Calabrese.
Italy was the primary place of cultivation until the 16th century when Catherine de Medici, member of an influential Italian family, married Henry II of France and brought her taste for broccoli with her.
French gardeners quickly adopted the plant and its use spread across Europe. In England, it was called sprout colli-flower or Italian asparagus under the assumption that it originated in Italy.
It was first grown in the Americas in Virginia in the late 1700s. Thomas Jefferson's garden records from his home in Monticello include planting of broccoli and cauliflower on May 27, 1767.
Although broccoli came to the United States in the 1700s, it was not adopted into American eating habits until the 1930s after Italian brothers, the D'arrigo Brothers, came to America and started growing it in San Jose, California and shipping it across the country.