Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
There are two distinctly different groups of Brassica rapa, and a wide range of varieties within these two groups. The binomial name B. campestris is also used.
The Pekinensis group is the more common of the two, especially outside Asia; names such as da baicai, pe-tsai, Chinese white cabbage, nappa cabbage and hakusai (Japanese) usually refer to members of this group. Pekinensis cabbages have broad green leaves with white petioles, tightly wrapped in a cylindrical formation and usually, but not necessarily, forming a compact head. As the group name indicates, this is particularly popular in northern China around Beijing (Peking), as well as in Japan and Korea.
The Chinensis group was originally classified as its own species under the name B. chinensis by Linnaeus. When used in English, the name bok choy typically refers to Chinensis. Smaller in size, the Mandarin term xiao baicai as well as the descriptive English names Chinese chard, Chinese mustard, celery mustard and spoon cabbage are also employed. Chinensis varieties do not form heads; instead, they have smooth, dark green leaf blades forming a cluster reminiscent of mustard or celery. Chinensis varieties are popular in southern China and South-East Asia.
Commercial variants of Chinensis include:
- choy sum (; also baby bok choy), can refer to either a small, delicate version of bok choy or simply the flowering heart of any Chinese cabbage
- Shanghai bok choy (Chinese: 上海白菜; pinyin: Shànghǎi báicài) refers to dark green varieties where the varioles are also green
The Chinese characters 白菜 simply mean "white vegetable", and are used to refer to both groups of B. rapa. The name bok choy and its variations bok choi and pak choi are all taken from the Cantonese readings of the name.
- Kai-lan (Chinese broccoli)
- Nutritional information on bok choy (with photo of chinensis variety)
- Multilingual taxonomical information from the University of Melbourne
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