Common name


Scientific Name

Brassica oleracea.


Other Common Names

Borecole, flowering kale or fodder kale (English), 宽叶羽衣甘蓝 (kuān yè yǔ yī gān lán, Mandarin), kola (Swahili), couve (Brazil and Portugal), kovi or kobi (Spanish), haak(Kashmir), sukuma wiki (East Africa)

Collard’s roots reach back 2000 years to ancient Greek cuisine and today the highly nutritious vegetable is enjoyed throughout most of the world. Brought to the Americas during European colonialism, the easy to grow green became a staple crop. Today, collards are a common side dish in southern American cuisine, where they are often stewed with pork. Collard greens are also integrated into a variety of new dishes such as quiche, stuffed leaves, and layered in casseroles as an alternative to lasagna pasta.

Historical Significance

collards historical image
‘Belulah Baptist Church Food Booth with Collards on the Menu, White Springs, Florida (1995) Florida Department of State Archives
Collard greens are one of the longest cultivated vegetables. Originating in the Mediterranean region, it spread throughout Europe during the Roman empire and European colonialism carried the crop worldwide in the 17th century. As a result, collards are prepared in a variety of multicultural dishes, including early American colonial cuisine. Collards remain a popular side-dish today, and it can be found in homes and menus throughout the southern United States.

Cultural Significance

Collards are culturally important worldwide. They remain a staple food throughout many parts of Europe and the Middle East. In Turkey collards are referred to as ‘dark cabbage,’ and they are a staple in the Black Sea area. Throughout Latin America stewed collards are a common side dish to meat or fish. Collards are one of the most common greens consumed in East Africa and Zimbabwe. Today, collards are an icon in traditional Southern fare in the United States where the greens are often stewed with pork, such as a ham bone, fatback, salt pork, or bacon, and seasoned with hot pepper vinegar.
Mrs. John L. Bishop with girl in collards garden. 1938. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Cooking With Collards

There are many ways to enjoy collard greens. Add the collard recipe collection to your cookbook. View recipes with collard greens for some ideas on how to cook with these delicious greens.When cooked alone, collards contain no fat nor cholesterol. They are also low in calories and rich in nutrients such as vitamins A, C, K; folate; calcium; fiber (“Collard Greens”).

Growing Tips

Collards are a cool-weather crop that are easy to grow in the Florida home garden. Once established, they are resilient to freezes and leaves can be harvested as needed from the bottom up throughout the winter and into the summer months. Planting usually occurs between August and February. Collard seeds can be started indoors in pots and transplanted into the garden or sown by seed directly into the ground. It is a good idea to improve the soil with compost a few weeks prior to planting, and to control weeds until the plants are well-established. (“Greens”).To Plan a heritage garden, download the ‘Planning a Florida Heritage Garden (PDF).’

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'This page produced by Val Leitner, Sarah Cervone, Bhakti Gibson, and Gabriel Frank with content contributed by Courtney Williams in HUM2420: African Humanities