Is Flowering Kale edible?

Can You Eat Flowering Kales?

Flowering kale also called ornamental kale is a star of color in a fall garden and is edible. You can eat it, but it is primarily grown as an ornamental specimen due to its pretty leaves. It is an easy-to-grow annual with ruffled leaves.

A mature plant’s height is about 1 to 3 feet and spreads up to 12 to 18 inches. Its season of interest is fall and sometimes winter when its color is at its best.

The purple ornamental kale is also known as ornamental cabbage and belongs to the family of broccoli and cauliflower, all of which are edible. 

  • The gorgeous foliage is mostly mistaken for the kale flowers.
  • The foliage color ranges from purple, pink, and red.
  • The leaves have a bitter flavor, making them more suitable as culinary garnishes than as a food.
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Is Flowering Kale Poisonous?

Ornamental kale leaves are edible, delicious, and non-toxic to humans. Some parts of the plants are poisonous though. The roots, like in any kale are toxic. They absorb various chemicals from the soil including fertilizers and herbicides or pesticides. Some species produce vibrant yellow edible flowers

Like the blooms, you can eat young and immature seedpods. They are tasty and best eaten raw in salads. As much as flowering cabbage is highly nutritious in humans, it is toxic to dogs . It is high in calcium oxalate which is harmful to your pet. It may result in health complications like kidney and bladder stones.

Flowering Kale recipes

Ornamental Kale Recipes

There are several recipes you can prepare with ornamental kales. Below are some of them.

Recipe description  Ingredients Preparation 
Winter ornamental kale salad with citrus – Stemmed and dried flowering kale heads 
-1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil 
– ¼ teaspoon of sea salt
– Finely cut ½ small onion
– ½ cup of golden raisin
– Black pepper; fresh and ground
Place kale in a large bowl and sprinkle salt and olive oil. Mix with clean hands until the kale is tender and shiny. Add raisin and pepper, toss to mix, and serve.
Ornamental kale with garbanzo and coconut – Ornamental kale leaves 
– 1 cup of garbanzo beans-cooked
– 2 garlic cloves 
– Black pepper and taste to your liking 
– A medium onion
– 1 tablespoon of cooking oil
Cut the kale leaves without stem into small pieces. Slice the onion into ¼ inch wedges and crush the garlic. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and sauté till they are transparent then add garlic. Add kale leaves and mix. Add garbanzo beans when kales wilt completely. Add salt and pepper and wait for the water to evaporate. Add coconut, mix, remove and serve right away. 
Flowering kale salad – 1 head of ornamental kale; clean, stem, and dry
– 1 tablespoon of olive oil
– ¼ teaspoon of sea salt
– ½ small onion in thin slices
– ½ cup raisins
– Ground black pepper to taste 
Place kale pieces in a bowl and sprinkle salt and olive oil. Mix until the leaves become shiny and tender. Add raisin and onion and toss to combine. Sprinkle black pepper to taste then serve.
Flowering kale stir fry – Tamari-1/2 cup
– Vegetable broth-1/2 cup
– 1 tablespoon maple syrup, corn starch, grape seed oil, and grated ginger
– 2 garlic cloves
-1 bunch ornamental kale – 3 cups of brown rice; cooked
– Black pepper and salt to taste
– ½ cup of raw cashew
  Mix the first 8 ingredients and whisk them together. Heat grapeseed oil and add onions then remove from fire.  Add kale to cover the pan in one layer then cook until tender. Repeat until all the kale is cooked. Add to the sauce and add the rice to combine. Sprinkle chopped cashews and serve. 
Ornamental Kale recipes
Ornamental Kale recipes

How to Trim Flowering Kale

Trimming ornamental kales is easy and it starts with pruning away the flower stalks. It is essential, especially when the plant is bolting. Bolting is a stage when the plant is approaching the end of its life cycle. Sanitize sharp shears before trimming. Part the leaves around the flower stalk and snip them from the base.

Be careful not to snip the young leaves, it might alter the plant’s natural symmetry. 

Bolting is the only threat to the plant’s beauty. Pruning helps in preserving the high texture and color of the foliage.

can you eat ornamental cabbage?

Ornamental Cabbage Care

If you buy ornamental cabbage from a nursery, you can plant it directly on the ground. Another option is sowing the seeds in spring. It is easy to maintain, from sowing to blossoming. Check out these care tips.

  • It loves rich, cool and moist well-draining soil
  • Avoid waterlogging, especially in winter
  • It performs best in full sun. Any shade will limit the intensity of the color
  • The plants require 50 cm spacing
  • The main threat is the white butterfly; scrape off any droppings to prevent caterpillars from destroying your plants
Is flowering kale edible?

Is Ornamental Kale a Perennial?

Flowering kale is a biennial, meaning it has two years of the life cycle. The first growing year is producing leaves while its flowers appear in the second year. Most growers appreciate its gorgeous ornamental foliage and discard it by the end of the first year. 

Is flowering kale edible?
Kale flowers up close

Ornamental Kale in Containers

Flowering kales not only grow well in a typical garden but also in containers. You need a container of 12 inches in width and depth. Fill the container with organically-rich soil. Plant the seeds three months before the last frost in fall.

Once the seedlings develop true leaves, thin them to create 18-24 inch spacing. Place the container in full sun to enjoy the brilliant colors from your kales. These beauties can also be grown indoors as long as you provide them with the right conditions. 

Can you eat flowering kale?

What Do You Do with Kale After Flowering?

Once your kale starts flowering, you need to act fast before it bolts. Harvest the leaves before they turn bitter and hard. If they are in excess, you can preserve them for future use. You can dry them in a dehydrator or oven and store them for adding to dishes. You can also grind them and keep the powder for seasoning dishes and smoothies. 

You can pick the flowers for food or your own decorations. Better still, wait for seeds to form and pick them for next planting season. 

Other resources related to Flowering Kale:

How to Grow Ornamental Flowering Kale | Gardener’s Path

Growing Flowering Kale Plants – Gardening Know How

How to Grow Flowering Kale Plants

5 Things to Know About Flowering Kale and Cabbage …

Clarisse Walters
Essential Garden Guide