Trentino Cab­bage Turnip

NZ Gardener - - 2018 Gardener Of The Year - FAM­ILY: BRASSICACEAE SPECIES: BRAS­SICA OLERACEA CUL­TI­VAR: NAONE ROSSE ANTICA TRENTINO

Ifirst came across the Trentino cab­bage turnip in an ar­ti­cle by Joseph Sim­cox of The Rare Veg­etable Seed Con­sor­tium. A self-de­scribed ”botan­i­cal ex­plorer”, Joe trav­els the world in search of rare and un­usual fruits and veg­eta­bles, col­lect­ing and sav­ing seeds, and dis­cov­ered this par­tic­u­lar veg­etable at a rare veg­etable seed ex­change in north­ern Italy. Ac­cord­ing to Plinio Pan­cirolle of the re­gional coun­try as­so­ci­a­tion for the north­ern Ital­ian re­gion of Trentino, the Naone Rosse Antica has been raised in the area for more than 2000 con­tin­u­ous years, a claim sub­stan­ti­ated by his­tor­i­cal records.

De­spite the name, Plinio and his col­leagues claim that the Trentino cab­bage turnip, be­cause of its flavour, tex­ture and leaves, is not ac­tu­ally part of the Bras­sica rapa (turnip) species, but be­longs to Bras­sica oleracea (cab­bage) fam­ily in­stead. Botan­i­cal in­for­ma­tion in this area shows ex­ten­sive cross­over be­tween bras­sica species with many over­lap­ping and con­flict­ing def­i­ni­tions – whichever way it goes, this is a unique and an­cient veg­etable that needs to be cel­e­brated. It has a suc­cu­lent tex­ture and mild flavour that is best en­joyed raw. When I first grew this veg­etable, I planted the seeds in mid-au­tumn. It did take some time for the swollen tap­root to de­velop, but it be­came very large by early spring – about the size of a soc­cer ball. There are two va­ri­eties of the Trentino cab­bage turnip: the red-skinned, red-leafed va­ri­ety Naone Rosse Antica, and the green­skinned Naone Giallo Antica. Both have white flesh and are delicious.

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