Among the healthiest and most sought-after cruciferous vegetables, you’ll find kale. It is a tasty, sometimes crunchy, and always healthy green veggie you shouldn’t miss in your diet or garden.
But if you want to know about kale, you need to know about the different types of kale available. Believe or not, there are tons of them – and they all look and taste differently.
Here, we want to show you all these kale varieties and give you a heads-up of what you can expect from their flavor, growing needs, and overall health benefits.
Below, you’ll find all of that and a bit more – so keep scrolling down!
What is Kale?
A loose-leafed vegetable, part of the Brassica family, and one of the oldest cruciferous vegetables we started to cultivate – kale is a go-to edible plant we’ve been eating for centuries.
There’s a lot of evidence about kale being a big part of people’s diets 2000 years ago. And it’s all because kale is easy to grow and offers a wide array of benefits impossible to dismiss.
The advantage of kale over other plants (even cruciferous vegetables) is that you can eat almost right from the soil. As soon as it is harvested, it is ready to reach your stomach without any side effects or drawbacks.
Apart from that, kale is available almost in any supermarket. Wherever you go, kale will be there to help you meet the recommended levels of greens in your diet.
Kale- Nutritional Chart
Kale is a superfood, as you may have heard. Yes, you read that correctly. This green leafy vegetable is high in various nutrients, including calcium, vitamins, iron, and protein, to name a few. So, here is a kale nutritional chart for you.
|Carb (g)||6.3 (including 1.4 g of sugar)|
|Vitamin E (mg)||1.9|
|Vitamin K (mcg)||494|
|Vitamin A (mcg RAE)||172|
|Vitamin C (mg)||21|
|Folate (mcg DFE)||76.7|
Why Grow Kale in Your Garden?
So, why grow kale and not other plants? Well, it’s easy – kale is one of the sturdiest cruciferous vegetables you can grow. But there are many other advantages to consider – here are a few of them:
Grows in Any Temperature
Kale is so robust that you can grow it at temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius). Even during a heavy frost in winter, kale is likely to survive and give you a sweet taste after the storm has passed.
Demands Little Care
If the temperatures are normal, but you don’t have fertilizer, then there’s nothing to worry about. Kale also thrives with little fertilization. Of course, you’ll need a rich soil that’s sufficiently deep – but apart from that, it grows well on almost any place without any fertilizer.
Not Much Watering
Despite needing little fertilization, it also grows in places with little humidity. You only need to water kale once or twice a week to enjoy healthy kale later on.
Resistant to Pests
Kale is not immune to pests, don’t think that. One of its significant enemies is aphids, a small bug that sucks away the plant’s nutrients. But it is still not common, so even if the aphids get to it, the kale won’t die soon.
You won’t have to reseed the kale after harvesting it. Once you cut it from the root, the plant will start growing again. You can get a lot of kale leaves in a year with proper harvesting and care.
So, are you surprised at how great kale is? Then you’ll love its health benefits as well.
Benefits of Eating Kale
It looks like a standard type of vegetable, but it’s not. As a cruciferous type, kale offers a wide array of health benefits thanks to its high vitamin content and other kinds of minerals.
Here are some reasons kale is such a sought-after health-oriented veggie:
Improves Cardiovascular Health
Due to the high levels of potassium, vitamin K and calcium in kale, it can enhance arteries and lower overall blood pressure. In some cases, it may even help prevent heart disease.
Increases Bone Health
Thanks to the amount of calcium, vitamin A, and phosphorous in kale, you can expect a slight improvement in bone and teeth health with consistent consumption.
Nothing like lowering cholesterol and other types of fat in your body by eating kale. The bile acid sequestrants in this vegetable’s composition reduce the absorption of unwanted fats in your body.
Boasting tons of vitamin A and beta carotene, you can expect kale to get you a slight enhancement in eyesight. It prevents cataracts, avoids poor vision, and prevents eye damage over time.
Boosts the Immune System
For those who want to keep their immune system in check, kale also works wonders. Vitamin A, C, and K content it offers will keep the immune system in check, ensuring the proper functioning of all safeguarding body processes.
Reduces Cancer Risk
And if all that wasn’t enough, you can still enjoy the benefits of kale in the long term thanks to its natural compounds that may prevent cancer. Inactivating some carcinogenic compounds in the body can stimulate cancer cells to die in the long term.
20 Varieties of Kale and Their Pictures
Now that you’re aware of kale’s benefits as a plant to grow and eat, let’s give you a better idea of the different types of kale available.
Whether you want to start eating or growing it – this brief guide about each kale will help you pick the ideal one accordingly. Take a look below!
1. Standard Curly Kale
If you’ve ever eaten kale, there’s a high chance it was the standard or curly variety. As the name says, it has a standard kale-like appearance with curly leaves.
In contrast with other types, it has a slightly pale and sometimes deep-green appearance. The leaves are curled and grow large enough to supply an entire day of meals with one pack of leaves. It grows almost anywhere and takes little effort.
To prepare it correctly, it is recommended to eat it fresh. But it also works with salt or lemon juice to give a less intense taste.
Curly kale is also one of the most nutritious, boasting tons of antioxidants and vitamin C (more than oranges), as well as potassium and vitamin B6.
2. Lacinato Kale
Behind curly kale, you will find Lacinato as the second most popular. It is the one you’re likely to find in the supermarket by the name of Tuscan or Dinosaur kale.
The taste of Lacinato kale is a little bitter when compared to its curly cousin. This comes from a super-dark color and nutrient-rich composition, including all kinds of vitamins, potassium, and zinc.
It is vital to know that Lacinato kale is a little bit thinner and less crunchy than other varieties, but it still allows all kinds of cooking methods for preparation. You can eat it however you want.
And most importantly, it is decently resistant. However, because its origin is Italy, it is more likely to thrive in fresh environments than in hot or cold ones. Sure enough, it takes little effort to grow it healthily.
3. Walking Stick Kale
When it comes to unusual types of kale, the walking-stick variety will probably stand out. The name comes from the stems’ super-large size, reaching up to 6 feet tall in some cases.
In contrast with other types of kale, this one grows almost like a small tree. Its leaves are the largest, and its stems are thick enough to withstand fresh environments. This one doesn’t thrive in cold areas.
The walking-stick kale’s advantage is that a single small tree can sustain enough kale supply for a month or two. And its flavor is one of the sweetest, making it easy to combine with salads and other foods thanks to its super-tasty flavor.
Lastly, it is also super-healthy. It contains tons of nutrients but slightly less condensed, making it feel like curly kale but larger.
4. Premier Kale
If you’re looking for a type of kale that withstands cold temperatures, Premium kale will come like a charm for you. It thrives on almost any scenario, including nearly-freezing temperatures where other types of kale don’t.
You can identify it by looking at its medium-green color, often a bit pale. The leaves can be super-large and with a scalloped shape.
This kale contains tons of vitamin A and other healthy nutrients. It is still easy to prepare and works for any salad or meal as necessary. The taste is rich and typically not as bitter as other varieties.
5. Siberian Kale
As you can guess by the name, this kind of kale thrives in cold environments. In contrast with other kales, this one is more similar to cruciferous vegetables in general than kale itself. That’s why it looks so much like broccoli.
What sets Siberian kale apart is the ruffled shape of its leaves. The taste is typically mild and goes well with almost any meal. You can consume it fresh on salads or with other preparations if needed.
It contains all the major nutrients that kale does and tons of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, making it one of the healthiest kales you can eat.
6. Red Russian Kale
People also know it as the scarlet kale due to its purple to red color. It grows like premier kale in size and shape of leaves, but this one is slightly thicker, smoother, and with a plastic-like texture.
This kale is easy to identify because it usually holds a lively green color with parts stained in either purple or red.
It still works seamlessly for any meal, making it an excellent choice for smoothies and salads. Because of its large and thick leaves, it works wonders as a standalone meal that satisfies. Eating it fresh can be a bit tricky, though, as the leaves tend to be thick and difficult to chew.
7. Redbor Kale
For those who want to reap all the health benefits of kale while enjoying a decorative plant in their garden, the Redbor kale stands as a go-to option.
When it grows large enough, this kale tends to transform is green leaves into a purple and intense red. This gives the kale a unique appearance, almost like a flower.
Despite its beauty, this kale is still worth consuming. The amount of antioxidants, nutrients, and helpful acids on each leave is fantastic. Thus, the plant holds such a color. And believe it or not, it is also one of the tastiest, boasting a deep yet sweet flavor.
But just like most ornamental plants, this one is a bit difficult to grow. Luckily, it is not impossible, as it can handle fresh and slightly cold temperatures if needed.
8. Chinese Kale
Some people know it as Chinese broccoli or cabbage. But it is actually a type of kale that grows in a crown-like shape.
The advantage of Chinese kale comes from the ability to grow almost anywhere. Because this kale was initially produced in Asia, it thrives in both warm and cold environments.
To identify Chinese kale, you need to look at its fat and cabbage-looking appearance. Being a part of the cabbage family, it has a leafy shape that connects to other leaves at the bottom.
As for the taste, it is similar to broccoli but in leaves. And when it comes to preparation, it is one of the easiest, as it works with salads without any cooking or as a contour for meats and grains.
9. Baby Kale
The name comes from the small shape it offers. In contrast with other varieties, this one has a leaf that’s half as large and super-thin, making it an excellent addition to foods and salads because it is easy to prepare. Yet, it is mostly recommended to eat with olive oil as an aperitive or seasoning.
As for the taste, it is similar to the standard kale. But this one has a slightly milder flavor due to its thin and small shape.
It is not as resistant as other varieties, though. This one requires a bit more shade and only thrives in fresh environments (not too hot or too cold).
As for its nutrients, it contains tons of vitamins, calcium, and iron. Despite its size, it is still highly nutritious and worth adding to your diet.
10. Tronchuda Kale
Probably the rarest of all kales is the Tronchuda. It is also known as the Portuguese kale, and it only grows in slightly warm environments.
The appearance is close to that of a cabbage or lettuce. Yet, it grows large leaves with tons of being within the shape. These leaves are still soft and thick, making it a go-to option for smoothies and as a salad core.
Consuming this kale is a piece of cake, as it requires no preparation for salads. And it is satisfying enough to use as a contour for meats or as a main salad dish.
As for the taste, it is also similar to cabbage. Same with the nutrients, containing tons of carbs and minerals, without adding up too many calories.
11. Ornamental Kale
Ornamental Kale, often known as flowering kale, rarely produces blooms. That’s quite the irony! However, the rosette resembles blossomed flowers. Unlike other edible kale varieties, this one is primarily produced for decorative purposes.
Therefore, this kale is not preferred to be eaten. Nevertheless, you can incorporate this green foliage into your yard gardening layout.
This kale type comes in various colors, ranging from white to pink and purple to magenta. Because they are so appealing, this kale is frequently used to decorate buffet tables.
So, if you want to cultivate vegetables as ornamental plants, ornamental kale is the ideal choice. And, yes, they can be grown in containers!
12. White Russian Kale
White Russian kale is a light-colored kale, as its name suggests, and has slender, slightly lobed leaves with a pale base and white veins. It is sometimes referred to as the Red Russian Kale with white ribs.
This cultivar is more tolerant of wet soils and damp winter conditions than other kales. Also, frost enhances its flavor and doesn’t mind the odd flood. Salads, stews, and sautés could all benefit from their fluffy texture.
13. Dazzling Blue
Dazzling Blue Kale will appeal to you if you enjoy dinosaur kale. Commercial farmers and gardeners have recently adopted this smoky blue-green leafy as a top pick. This ‘Lacinato’ type kale grows cold-hardy and has lovely, huge blue-green leaves with pronounced purple-pink streaks in the center.
The traditional Lacinato flavor and tenderness will flood your mouth when you take a bite of this crunchy kale. You won’t regret using it in smoothies and salads! It is open-pollinated and mature leaves can be harvested after around 60 days.
14. Black Magic
The Black Magic Kale is not a brand-new crop and has long been a favorite among commercial farmers. This kale belongs to the Lacinato variety and isn’t usually black or green.
The texture is lovely, and the hue is blackish/bluish-green. The leaves can reach up to two feet or longer and are massive. They are a delicacy nearly as soon as they begin to grow since they are nutrient- and flavor-rich.
It may be picked from spring through winter and takes around 65 days to reach maturity. But you can choose between picking them young for baby leaves or letting them grow and then picking them for kale chips and other meals.
They have a potent flavor and are loaded with vitamins and nutrients. Did we also mention that the Black Magic Kale can be one of the tastiest plants in your vegetable garden?
The Winterbor Kale, which has Dutch roots, has leaves that are blue-green and elegantly curled. This cultivar produces lush growth on 2′ tall plants. The leaves have a lot of texture and volume as they curl downward and frill deeply at the margins.
For a winter crop, Winterbor Kale seeds can be sown in late summer or early spring. This kale variety’s tolerance for snow and frost is another plus. Also, it matures in about 60 days.
16. Westlandse Winter
The Westlandse Winter Kale is another curly cultivar that grows quickly, densely, and in volume. The dark green leaves of this kale are also grown for baby leaves that can be eaten raw. The Westlandse Winter Kale enjoys cold temperatures, much like the earlier variety.
Specifically, mature plants can withstand temperatures as low as 10°F. In fact, the frost will enhance the flavor of the kale if you keep it outside over the winter. This kale matures in around 60 days and is open-pollinated.
Having said that, slug damage to this kale is possible. Therefore, the solution would be to employ a plant-based, environmentally friendly slug repellent.
17. Blue Curled Scotch
Well, another curled kale on our list is the Blue Curled Scotch Kale, which has nothing to do with Scotch!
Unlike any other kind, Blue curled Scotch Kale has its own flavor. Furthermore, this kale contains a very high concentration of anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and cancer-preventative substances. It is a variety of kale that originated in Scotland and is renowned for having a delectably nutty and distinct flavor.
After a brief chill, it becomes deliciously sweet and produces some of the greatest kale chips you will ever have. It matures in 55 days and can be picked throughout the growing season.
18. Scarlet Kale
Despite being called “Scarlet Kale,” the leaves are more deep purple. But did you know that the frost deepens the color of the foliage? However, there is no denying how stunning this variety seems.
Like most other kale cultivars, this variety of kale does well in the cold and tastes delicious when grown in the chill. The highest vitamin C of any kale you will ever eat is in this kind, almost as much as an orange.
The Scarlet Kale is open-pollinated, grows straight and typically to a height of 2 to 3 feet, and matures in 55 to 60 days. It can also be grown for baby leaves.
19. Simone Broadleaf
We are insatiable for this type. There is no denying that Simone Broadleaf looks gorgeous. The Simone Broadleaf Kale is the most exquisite variety of kale. The leaves come in different varieties: glazed, silvery, and light green.
Some have purple stems with reddish undertones. Cultivate them and pick the leaves from the stalk whenever you want to use them in your cooking.
Making additional room in your garden is necessary if you intend to cultivate Simone Broadleaf kale. This type grows exceptionally swiftly and tends to recover within a day or two of picking, which is why we say this. That said, it takes this kale 55 days to mature.
20. Madeley Kale
This heritage kale has spherical leaves and is from England. This heirloom green kale’s highly vigorous flat leaf reminds us of collards. The fact that this kale may grow to be enormous and easily outgrow all other kale in the summer impresses us the most, even though it is still sensitive.
This kale variety’s ability to endure and even thrive in bitterly cold northern latitudes is another intriguing trait. The plants maintain their shape and crispness while withstanding freeze-thaw cycles. Adaptive Seeds imported these kale seeds to the United States in partnership with the Heritage Seed Library of England.
So, did you learn a thing or two about the types of kale available? If yes, then it’s time to decide which one will be your best option for growing.
We recommend all of them, but preferably the most popular ones like curly and lacinato. They are the easiest to find seeds for and will often grow even in the harshest of environments. This will reduce the amount of effort it takes to grow them.
Whatever you pick, be sure it’s something that meets both your garden and diet needs. That should get you to the ideal type of kale to grow.