As I get older, I appreciate broccoli more and more. While I still have a huge sweet tooth, I’ve come to enjoy vegetables more than I did 20 years ago. Broccoli is my favorite vegetable. I like cooked and raw. I also like broccolini.
I suspect over the years I’ve eaten a variety of broccoli types, but what I didn’t realize is that there are 20 types of broccoli.
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable and part of the cabbage family, which includes vegetables such as Brussel sprouts and kale. Although the tastes are different, broccoli and these other vegetables are from the same family.
Numerous Health Benefits
There are numerous benefits to eating broccoli, including the high amounts of vitamins included. This includes vitamins C, K, and A, fiber, calcium, iron and even anti-inflammatory properties that make eating broccoli a very smart thing to do. Below I set out all the broccoli options plus a nifty broccoli nutrition chart.
Table of Contents
Broccoli Nutrition Facts Chart
Now let’s jump into your broccoli options.
Early-in-the-year Broccoli Types
Arcadia broccoli matures in around two months and consists of uniform heads that are small and purplish green in color. They are five to six inches across and very tolerant of the cold, which means fall and winter production is highly recommended. Not only is it resistant to cold, but it is also resistant to head rot and downy mildew, and it won’t produce brown beads, either.
The Calabrese broccoli matures in around 65 days and is perfect when planted in the fall. In fact, as the weather gets cooler the heads actually get sweeter. The broccoli has deep-green heads that are a medium size, and there are a lot of side shoots produced once the central head is harvested.
Maturing in a little under 60 days, the Amadeus broccoli is roughly four to five inches in diameter and has small beads and tight heads that are blue green in color. It has strong side-shoot production once you harvest the main head, and it is a very vigorous and medium-sized type of broccoli.
Blue Wind Broccoli
Blue Wind broccoli is an early bloomer, usually getting to be full-grown in less than 60 days, and it has tight, large heads and bluish-green leaves on the top of the plant. Just like kale, Blue Wind broccoli is excellent when braised or steamed.
“De Cicco” Heirloom Broccoli
This type of broccoli can be ready in less than 50 days, and it is usually fairly small – around three to four inches per head. It is a multicut Italian heirloom variety and works especially well in home gardens. The broccoli also has tender side-shoot spears in large numbers, but if you are interested in more of them you can harvest the main head at around three inches.
Maturing in roughly 60 days, this is one of the earliest blooming broccoli plants. It has a very good root system and therefore, it produces well even if the soil is less than perfect. Gypsy broccoli has green heads that are well domed and beads that are medium to small in size. It also has great heat tolerance and produces a lot of side shoots.
Mid-Season Broccoli Varieties
This type of broccoli has tightly packed heads that are a beautiful shade of blue green. Maturing in roughly 70 days, the Belstar broccoli can tolerate both cold and heat, so you can plant it either in the spring or the fall.
Resistant to many types of mildew, the Diplomat broccoli consists of thick, uniform heads from four to six inches across, and they are dark green in color. They do especially well in colder climates that only get moderately warm in the summer months, and they bloom in a little over two months.
Maturing in roughly 75 days, this is a great mid-season broccoli that produces a lot of side shoots, as well as deep blue-green heads, tight beads, and a size of approximately six to seven inches in diameter.
Fiesta broccoli produce in roughly 70 days, and the broccoli heads themselves are well domed and thick, with very thick stems as well. It does best if you plant it in the late summer months so that it can mature in the fall and winter. It has limited side-shoot production and has limited heat tolerance once it’s fully grown.
Marathon broccoli matures in a little more than 60 days, and if you live in the Pacific Northwest and Northern California, it works best when produced in the fall and winter seasons.
Waltham 29 Broccoli
Also called the Open Pollinated or Heirloom broccoli, this type produces multiple thick, blue-green heads that can be from four to eight inches in diameter. This is followed by multiple side shoots over a season that can last a little over 70 days. The Waltham 29 broccoli is suitable for production in early spring and late fall, and it is a very cold-tolerant type of broccoli.
Chinese Broccoli (Gai-lon)
The Happy Rich is a very vigorous plant that matures in roughly 55 days. It has a lot of side shoots and produces large florets that actually look like miniature heads of broccoli. It is a hybrid plant and produces a large amount of food.
Maturing in roughly two months, this type of broccoli is deep green in color and grows to six to eight inches in diameter. It also has white flowers on its stalks, and because it doesn’t always do great in hot weather, it is best to plant it in early spring or late summer.
This is also a hybrid plant that matures in 44 days and tends to be more heat tolerant than the non-hybrid varieties.
This type of broccoli matures in two to three months, and it sprouts profusely. If you harvest the main head early, you can enjoy lots of side shoots afterwards, and they are tender and long. You can use this food in stir-fries or prepare it like you do asparagus, and they do best when produced in the spring or fall, although in high temperatures they can taste a little on the bitter side.
These are essentially broccoli side shoots that can be cooked like the sprouting broccoli variety. Often, broccoli will produce a large amount of side shoots after the head is harvested, and different varieties produce different amounts of side shoots.
This is an Italian heirloom that looks very similar to a cross between a cauliflower and a broccoli plant. It matures in 75 days, and its green heads are spiraled and quite attractive. It also has a very delicate flavor. It has been grown in Italy since the 1500s and has a slightly crunchy taste.
Also known as the purple sprouting broccoli, this type of broccoli produces lots of tender, purple flowers that have green stems. When you cook the florets they turn green, and there is a three- to five-week extended harvest period. Best when grown in cool weather, mainly because the shoots taste very bitter when the weather is hot.
Sprouting broccoli came about before the broccoli as we know it today. It has lots of long side shoots and produces a lot of large, abundant heads. Most people cook the side shoots like asparagus, which means you can chop and sauté them, or even grill them after you brush them with a little olive oil.