Ornamental Kale (Brassica oleracea var. acephala) is part of the Brassica family, along with cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.
Genetically, it’s the same as the culinary type that we love to eat. However, it’s been hybridized to look more like a flower with purple, pink, and/or white leaves.
Sometimes mislabeled as ornamental cabbage, you can tell the difference by looking at the leaves: kale is curly or ruffled, whereas cabbage has leaves that are broad and smooth.
Ornamental kale is liked by gardeners who want to add some color to their fall and winter gardens and containers, as it grows well in cooler weather. In fact, the colors become their most vibrant once night temperatures start dropping. However, these colors will start to fade once nighttime temperatures start dropping to 20°F and colder.
In addition to providing a pretty addition to your garden, you may be wondering if there’s any potential nutritional benefit to these “ornamental” plants. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Apart from their looks, a key difference between this and the leafy greens you buy at the grocery store is that this variety isn’t grown for flavor. As a result, the ornamental stuff is much less flavorful than the “edible” culinary leafy greens. However, the leaves of these varieties are safe to eat. Just make sure to stay away from the roots, which are poisonous in any type of kale.