|Brassica rapa subsp. var. Chinensis group||Bok choy, Chinese cabbage|
Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa) is a Chinese leaf vegetable commonly used in Chinese cuisine. The vegetable is related to the Western cabbage and of the same species as the common turnip. There are many variations on its name, spelling, and scientific classification.
Pests and diseases
There are two distinctly different groups of Brassica rapa, and a wide range of varieties within these two groups. The binomial name B. campestris is also used.
The Pekinensis group is the more common of the two, especially outside Asia; names such as da baicai (lit. "large white vegetable"); petsay/pechay (Tagalog); Chinese white cabbage; baechu, wongbok, nappa, or napa, cabbage; and hakusai (Japanese: 白菜) usually refer to members of this group. Pekinensis cabbages have broad green leaves with white petioles, tightly wrapped in a cylindrical formation and usually, but not necessarily, forming a compact head. As the group name indicates, this is particularly popular in northern China around Beijing (Peking).
The Chinensis group was originally classified as its own species under the name B. chinensis by Linnaeus. When used in English, the name Pak choi typically refers to Chinensis. Smaller in size, the Mandarin term xiao baicai ("small white vegetable") as well as the descriptive English names Chinese chard, Chinese mustard, celery mustard, and spoon cabbage are also employed. Chinensis varieties do not form heads; instead, they have smooth, dark green leaf blades forming a cluster reminiscent of mustard or celery. Chinensis varieties are popular in southern China and South-East Asia.
Commercial variants of Chinensis include:
- choy sum (also yu choy), can refer to either a small, delicate version of pak choi or simply the flowering heart of any Chinese cabbage. It might also refer to the heart of Shanghai pak choi.
- Shanghai pak choi refers to dark green varieties where the varioles are also green. It's probably the most common vegetable in Shanghai, where it's simply called qingcai ("green vegetable").
- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963