Chinese Broccoli, Kailan, Gai Lohn, Chinese Kale
Brassica alboglabra is a member of the Brassicaceae (mustard) family.
Varieties usually listed simply as Gai-lon (or Gai-lohn), Kailan, Chinese Broccoli, or Chinese Kale.
The plant resembles regular broccoli although the leaves appear to be a bit broader, the stems are longer, and the head is much smaller. The flowers form first in diminutive heads and then elongate rapidly into flower stalks bearing yellow or white flowers.
Other names. Pak kah nah (Hmong); gai lahn (Cantonese Chinese).
Marketing. This crop is not well understood by the mainstream market but it is very common in Asian outlets. The quality in those markets is often poor due to the length of the distribution chain and unsophisticated post harvest handling. It is a an exciting product for restaurants and up-scale markets that are looking for something new and interesting but not too unusual. It is very cheap in Asian markets and costly at locations outside that community.
Harvest time is critical. Cut eight inch stalks including a few leaves just before the flowers open. Each plant can be harvested several times, check frequently. Pressure pack in thirty pound wire bound lugs or standard waxed leaf cartons ( 1 and 1/9th bushel). Thoroughly cool and hydrate (dunk it in a tank of cold water then ice or put it in a cooler if you have it , otherwise get it to the market fast.)
Use. Used in stir-frying and other cooked dishes. It is quick, easy to prepare and versatile. Prepare like regular broccoli.
Climatic requirements. It is a cool season vegetable that should be grown like regular broccoli.
Propagation and care. It seems to do well on plastic mulch if given adequate moisture. Plant seeds 1/2 inch deep and one inch apart. Thin to 6 inches apart in rows 12-24 inches wide. Harvest the flower stalk just before the flowers open. Do not pre-fertilize as it is not a heavy feeder. It matures quickly and needs plenty of water.
Harvest and postharvest practices. USDA storage recommendations are 32°F (0°C) at 95 to 100 percent relative humidity, with an approximate storage life of 10 to 14 days.
Nichols Garden and Nursery, 1190 North Pacific Hwy, Albany, OR 97321.
Sunrise Enterprises, P. O. Box 10058, Elmwood, Conn. 06110-0058.
Tsang and Ma, P.O. Box 5644, Redwood City, CA 94063.
Shephens, James. Minor Vegetables. Univ. of Florida Cooperative Extension Bulletin SP-40. June 1988, 123 pp.
Harrington, Geri. Grow Your Own Chinese Vegetables. Garden Way Publishing, Pownal, Vermont. 1984. 268 pp.
Yamaguchi, Mas. World Vegetables. AVI Publishing Company, Inc. Westport, Conn. 1983. 415 pp.
Tropical Products Transport Handbook. USDA Agric. Handbook 668. 1987.
Mansour, N. S. Chinese Cabbage and Leafy Greens. Oregan State University Vegetable Crops Recommendations. 1990.
Compiled by Claudia Myers and David Visher, UC Small Farm Center.
Figure 1. Chinese broccoli packed for market. (Photo by Charlotte Glenn).