Tree Collards

6 May

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Bananas give you an idea of the size of the leaves.

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– Photos from Laura Bruno’s blog – laurabruno.files.wordpress.com

Tree Collards are much like regular collard greens except that they are 5-6 feet tall with purple-tinted leaves growing up a single tall stalk. They are definitely perennial in zones 8-10, maybe in zone 7, and may over-winter in other areas depending on the conditions. In colder zones, if you have established plants, you could try taking cuttings as winter begins and rooting them indoors for planting out the following spring. (We don’t know if this will work!)

Their history and biological identity seem to be shrouded in mystery, but they are reputed to come from Africa and have been preserved and passed on within African-American communities in this country. They do not normally flower or make seed, and when they do, the seed does not breed true. Instead propagation is by cuttings, which are passed along from gardener to gardener. Tree collard greens are tender and delicious in cool weather, so they are a good choice for a low-maintenance winter vegetable in mild climates. (They’re pretty good in warm weather also.)

We’ve grown these wonderful plants in our research gardens for decades. Collard leaves are rich in calcium (226 mg per cup, cooked), vitamins B1, B2, B9, and C (which may be leached by cooking, however), as well as beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A). They are high in soluble fiber and contain multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties: diindolylmethane, sulforaphane and selenium. Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley have recently discovered that 3,3′-Diindolylmethane in Brassica vegetables such as collard greens is a potent modulator of the innate immune response system with potent anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer activity.

If it says “out of stock” go ahead and order; we are getting fresh cuttings in and mailing them out at the start of each week. We offer these in sets of three cuttings. Each cutting has several nodes from which leaves or roots will sprout. Cuttings should be put in pots in good potting soil (with half of the nodes below the soil and half above) and kept moist and in the shade to develop roots for a couple of months before planting out in the garden. Leaves may begin to grow at first but then will stop until good roots are formed. We cannot guarantee that all three cuttings will survive; conditions en route or in your own area may keep them from being successful.

SORRY, WE CANNOT SHIP TREE COLLARD CUTTINGS TO FOREIGN ADDRESSES OR OUTSIDE OF THE CONTINENTAL US.  They are too unlikely to survive the journey. If it says “out of stock” go ahead and order; we are getting cuttings in and mailing them out at the start of each week.

You’ll receive three cuttings and instructions for rooting them; they’ll be sent via Priority US Mail and should be placed in soil as soon as they arrive if possible. If you do not have the pots ready right away, they can be put in a vase with water for a day or two. If you order other items, these may come separately.

Instructions for growing the cuttings are included with your order.

“What’s a tree collard? It’s a perennial “tree” that produces amazingly huge collard-like leaves… which taste like an intriguing cross between collards and kale with just a hint of purple cabbage. They’re great in stir fries, “beanie greenies,” soups and even in scrambled eggs… I love them as wrappers for Whole Foods’ “Guac-Kale-Mole” and salsa, but they also sauté nicely as strips with a bit of garlic and lemon juice. I’ve added them as the green in “Beanie Greenies,” too. David and I particularly like Beanie Greenies with a splash of wheat free tamari, chipotle pepper, and a hint of miso and blackstrap molasses. Yum! In the past, I’ve had terrible luck growing collards, so I am thrilled with these tree collards. I’ve not done this yet, but supposedly, you can also cut off a lower branch, root it and grow a whole new tree. This one’s so prolific that I don’t think I’d need a second one. It loves the deep soil available in the second tier of my InstaBed.” – Laura Bruno’s blog – laurabruno.files.wordpress.com

Two useful links on starting tree collards:

Perennial Tree Collards Blog:  http://treecollards.blogspot.com/

San Franciso Gate (Chronicle), Home Guides:

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/propagating-purple-tree-collards-66505.html

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