Coleworts: A Primitive Cabbage

What are coleworts cabbage and where did they come from? What food did the Greeks, Romans, Hindis, Tartars and the Celts all have in common? Coleworts, the pre-modern version of kale.

Coleworts or colewyrts is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning cabbage plants.

The Anglo-Saxon's got the word from the Romans whose word 'coles' or 'caulis' referenced the whole group of cabbagelike plants. The German word 'Kohl' has the same origin. Kale is a Scottish word from, you guessed it, the same Roman root word 'coles'. Collards is a corruption of the Anglo-Saxon word colewyrts, which brings us full circle to the beginning of our story.

Actually the linguistic story of this very ancient plant goes much deeper. The Tartars called it Kappes, krout, or kapost, the Hindi called it kopi, the Norwegians called it kaal and the Spanish called it col. The original Greek word (from which the Romans got caulis) was Kaulion.

Seems like everybody was eating this stuff. But what was it?

Exactly what are these colewarts? Or cabbage plants?

Most likely the word (and all it's variations) doesn't refer to a hard headed cabbage, but rather to something more like kale or collards. The cabbagelike plants are native to Asia Minor, or the eastern Mediterranean.

Prehistoric traders and migrating tribes spread this easily grown vegetable of the "˜brassica oleracea acephala' family wide and far, from the Far Eastern coast of the orient to the furthest westerly point in Europe. "˜Brassica oleracea acephala' basically means "˜cabbage without a head'.

Long before the Christian era Romans grew different varieties of "˜caulis'. There was a mild-flavored kind with large leaves, another with small stalks and leaves with a sharp biting taste. Some with curled leaves and others described much like our modern collards.

"˜Coles' were described by European writers in the first, third, fourth and 13th centuries.

Colewyrts, or headless cabbage plants, such as kale and collards were brought to the United States with the advent the white man.

It is not believed to have been cultivated by the native tribes of either North or South America.

Colewyrts are high in vitamins A and C, and in the mineral iron. Once thought to be the vegetable of poor people it is now highly regarded as one of the most nutritious vegetables available today, and is thought to have strong anti-aging and anti-cancer properties.

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