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Broccoli is a plant of the Cabbage family, Brassicaceae (formerly Cruciferae). It is classified as the Italica Cultivar Group of the species Brassica oleracea. Other cultivar groups of Brassica oleracea include cabbage (Capitata Group), cauliflower (Botrytis Group), kale and collard greens (Acephala Group), kohlrabi (Gongylodes Group), and Brussels sprouts (Gemmifera Group). The Chinese broccoli (Alboglabra Group) is also a cultivar group of Brassica oleracea.
Common varieties are Calabrese and purple sprouting broccoli.
Broccoli possesses abundant fleshy green flower heads arranged in a tree-like fashion on branches sprouting from a thick, edible stalk. The large mass of flower heads is surrounded by leaves. Broccoli most closely resembles its close relative cauliflower, but is green rather than white.
Broccoli is a cool-weather crop that does poorly in hot summer weather. It is usually boiled or steamed, but may be eaten raw and has become popular as a raw vegetable in hors-d'oeuvre trays. Broccoli is high in vitamin C and soluble fiber. Broccoli also contains the compound glucoraphanin, leading to an anticancer compound sulforaphane.
The word broccoli comes from the Latin brachium and Italian brocco meaning 'arm', or 'branch'. Broccoli is often referred to as a "cruciferous" vegetable. The Brassicaceae family (also known as the mustard or cabbage family) was formerly called the Cruciferae family, due to the fact that these plants often have four petals which can look like crosses.
Broccoli is frequently referred to in popular culture as a vegetable that parents try to force their unwilling children to eat.
United States President George Bush (41st) was known to have an active disdain for broccoli, having actually said so in an offhand remark during his presidency. In response, a powerful broccoli agriculture lobby sent several tons of it to the White House.
Also, in the TV sitcom Seinfeld, Newman refers to broccoli as a "Vile weed!".
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