Food curly_kale

Published on March 25th, 2012 | by ecolocalizer


Delicious, Nutritious Kale: Guide to Different Varieties

Kale is a beautiful dark leafy green that is packed with nutrition and cancer fighting properties. High in manganese, as well as vitamins A, C and K, this vegetable is often referred to as a superfood. Gaining quickly in popularity for its ease to grow, hardiness and wonderful taste, this leafy green is becoming a staple in home gardens everywhere. And it can be one of the most delicious things you’ve ever tasted–check out the best kale recipes here, from Vibrant Wellness Journal.

There are now so many different kinds of kale that it is almost impossible to keep track of them all. This guide will give you a photo reference, as well as a little bit of information about some of the more popular cultivars. In most climates, different varieties will produce best when started indoors in mid winter, so that they can be transplanted outside in the early spring.

Curly Kale

One of the most common types found in domestic (read: American) grocery stores, Curly kale is sweet and mild.

Lacinato Kale (Dino Kale)

The second most likely type to be found in grocery stores, Lacinato (aka Dinosaur kale) has tall narrow leaves and a wrinkled texture; this variety will also continue to grow over the winter very well.

dino kale

Premier Kale

“Premier” is a newer variety of this healthy vegetable that is prized for its early maturity and cold hardiness.

Redbor Kale

A beautiful dark red-leafed variety, the Rebor type of this vegetable walks the line between a food crop and an ornamental plant.

redbor kale

Siberian Kale

One of the most cold hardy varieties available, Siberian has enormous leaves and can take quite a beating from cold or pests.

Walking Stick Kale

A particularly unusual variety, the Walking Stick variety can grow up to six feet tall if well fertilized and cared for. The stems can be dried, laminated and used as walking sticks.

Red Russian Kale

Similar to Siberian in its hardiness, Red Russian boasts beautiful red leaf stalks and tender twisting intricate leaves.

Kamome Red Kale

One of the many types of “flowering” kales, Kamome is an ornamental variety prized for its appearance. Although edible, these flowering greens are often more bitter tasting than other varieties.

Have more questions about kale varieties or instructions regarding how to best care for these plants? Please leave your query or comments below, and I’m sure that I, or some of your fellow readers will be able to answer them. Thanks!

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  • Rhonda Winter

    I am constantly amazed at kale’s astonishing tenacity to endure through the cold winter months. Our garden got over two feet of snow in January, and after the drifts finally melted, our dino kale plants from the previous summer not only survived the storm, but thrived and are still continuing to grow.

  • Brett Gustafson

    Asheville where I live seems to be very kale centric. Everyone eats would think we live in a kale cult. And like rhonda says..our kale usually last the winter and is the first early greens we have…usually by mid feb.

  • Rhonda Winter

    I love the idea of a southern kale cult. I imagine hoards of devout people kneeling down to pray to a beautiful leafy green goddess.

    And ever since I read your recent article about how cruciferous plants can greatly help treat and prevent cancer, I have become somewhat kale and collard obsessed. Perhaps we should start some sort of kale religion?

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  • Sanya

    I love kale and eat it every day. I live in Southern Nevada and would like to know, in general, when and how to plant kale. I know nothing about the process, but would like to give it a try.
    Thank you.

    • Rhonda Winter

      Kale is fabulous and wonderfully versatile. When and where you start growing the vegetable will depend upon your specific climate and garden conditions. Many kale varieties are very cold tolerant once they are established, but will perish if exposed to extreme temperatures as young seedlings. Do you want to germinate your kale from seeds, or plant starts? What is your soil and sun exposure like?

      This California company is a good source for organic heirloom kale seeds:

    • Weston L

      It sounds like you’re probably in “Hardiness Zone 8.” You can begin planting kale 6 to 8 weeks before the first fall frost , and continue planting throughout the fall. They should be ready for harvest by winter. You can use the following webpage to discover when your average first frost is:

  • Sanyakrumm

    Our soil is very alkaline and our climate is hot with very low humidity during the summer. I would try either seeds or plants. Thank you for the link.

    • Rhonda Winter

      If your climate is very hot, be sure to cover all of the earth around your plants with plenty of organic mulch; this will help keep the plant’s roots cooler, and will also retain more moisture in the soil.

  • Dominique

    Hey I recently tried what was labeled as black kale at sprouts and it was a lighter shade than I’m used to. When I went to make my salad it was really spicy. It almost tasted like wasabi or mustard. Is that the black mustard kale or something different?

  • http://n/a jenny harris

    I have just acquired some Red Russian Kale seeds and would dearly like
    to plant and grow it. We are in Winter in Cape Town South Africa, cold and wet at the moment. When would you say is a good time to plant it please???

    • Rhonda Winter

      Most kale varieties are fairly frost tolerant, but young seedlings are more fragile. I would germinate the seeds indoors, and then transplant the young plants outside as soon as all danger of frost is over for the season.

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  • Martha

    I bought a Kale plant in the garden section of my supermarket. The pot read: “Cabbage/Kale”. I am trying to develop and indoor greenhouse for the winter, but I also have room outside in Rural Southeastern, PA. The kale looks like your “ornamental Kale ” except that it has a white stem, no purple in it at all. Can I expect this plant to be more bitter, but edible as well? Of course, being the person I am, I thought “Great…..full grown Kale!” and now that I’m home I’m questioning my judgement. Firstly, it is edible, right? should I use it in cooking soups, or smoothies, or just admire its beauty? OMG :)

    • Dylan

      Yes, all varieties of kale are edible! However, as an ornamental variety I would indeed expect it to be more bitter. Soups would be a great option!

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  • Claire Campbell

    Hello, thank you for this post. I’m currently growing a cross-germinated version of Green and Siberian Kale. So, it’s mild but hardy! I am also growing another variety that I was using this post to hopefully identify.

    When the farmer gave me the seedling, it was labelled as Red Russian and true it did have dark green leaves with red stalk, stems and veins. However, I’d had to prune it quite a bit because of pesky aphid damage and the big leaves I have now have the same lobed shape but green stems?! The very bottom is still crimson but the stems and veins are regular old green! Ha I should mention we’ve had some warmer days so maybe this is why the kale has changed coloring?

  • ingrid

    what is the name of kale in Spanih

    • diana

      col Rizada

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  • http://ecolocalizer Dan

    Great site!
    I have asked every produce manager at all the health food stores, and no one is able to answer this question. Since I put raw kale in a blended drink with fruit and juice every morning, I’m not concerned about texture or taste; I simply want to buy the variety that has the most nutrients; between Red, Green, and Lacinato, can you tell me which one that is?

    • Rhonda Winter

      All types of kale are full of many important vitamins and minerals, but I do not know of any specific research that has studied which kale varieties have more nutritional value. Often the darker green a vegetable is, the better is it for you — so perhaps dino kale has the most nutrients? Eating kale raw will provide the most vitamins. Dino kale plants are also very tenacious; our plants survived two feet of snow last winter, and are still continuing to flourish.

      This is what the Seeds of Change website has to say about different kale varieties and their respective nutritional value:

      “Vitamins in Kale: When choosing the most nutritious varieties of kale, pick the deepest colors, as these will most often have higher contents of vitamins and carotenoids. Dinosaur Kale is a good example of a very dark-green kale. Pick fresh leaves from your garden and eat them within a few days, because the longer kale is kept the more the flavor declines.”

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  • Nan Ondra

    I am very surprised to see that you use images without asking permission of the copyright holders. Please remove my photograph of ‘Redbor’ kale above, or at least link it to the appropriate post on my blog:

    • Rhonda Winter

      I apologize if your image was used in error; it has been removed.

    • dlinet

      My apologies as well. I thought I had cited where all images had come from, and I apologize that yours was not included.

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  • Petar

    Which variety has the higher content of lutein and zeaxantin?

  • Jose

    What is the nutritional value of Kamome kale compared to the more green variaties?

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  • Maida Milchen

    I prefer Lacinato Kale and have been eating it, in moderate amounts and not every day since my breast cancer diagnosis and surgery in late 2012. I like the flavor of Lacinato but other varieties are abundant here in NYC. My question is which variety is the most nutritious and beneficial in supporting immune systems. Bang for the buck, so to say.


    • Rhonda Winter

      In general, the darker the kale, the more nutritious it is; and Lacinato, or Dino Kale, is one of the darkest and best varieties for you.

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  • elain

    is Kamone White Flowering Kale edible.

    • Derrick

      all Kale’s are Edible, very high in fiber ,also try godzella Kale best when steam with olive oil and garlic with a pinch of Kocher salt

  • Paula Thomas

    Surprising how many there are to choose from. One I’m planting this year isn’t in your list called Tronchuda Kale. It’s shaped like a collard green.

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