Sixteenth to eightteenth century depictions of cole crops (Brassica oleracea L.), turnip (B. rapa L. cultivar group Vegetable turnip) and radish (Raphanus sativus L.) in Flandres and the present-day Netherlands.

A.C. Zeven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademic


Cole and neep crops are old crops in the Low Countries. The first archival records date from the 14th century. The crops have been described in herbals of the 16th and 17th century. During the 16th to 18th century they have also been depicted on paintings. In a herbal of 1554 by Dodonaeus white, red and Savoy cabbages, cauliflower and kale have been described. Except for kale these cole crops have been observed in paintings. Some red cabbages are truly red, whereas most are purplish. Some have a silvery shine. All cauliflowers are white. One painting shows a cauliflower with a 30 cm long stem. Kohlrabi has not been described and not painted in the Low Countries during those centuries. This crop was and still is popular in Germany. All vegetable turnips in paintings, made in Flanders and the present-day Netherlands are white. They have various sizes and shapes which may be genetically controlled and environmentally conditioned. Turnips in England had to be bronze-skinned. A long, white 'root' with a red head, which has been both described and painted, has been identified as radish.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-33
JournalActa Horticulturae
Publication statusPublished - 1996



  • cabbages
  • swede rape
  • radishes
  • paintings
  • netherlands
  • agricultural history
  • cultural history
  • flanders

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