Plant of the Month - December - Brussel Sprouts/Brassicas


Lorna Jenkins is an artist and illustrator. She paints impressionist landscapes and nature.

Why did we pick it?

Brussels sprouts are part of a varied but closely related family called the brassicas. We use brassicas for everything from fuel (oilseed rape) to condiments (mustard). But brassicas are very sensitive to weather conditions, which are becoming more unpredictable as the climate changes. We're supporting work to make brassicas more resilient to varied weather, reducing waste and environmental impact.

Brussel Sprouts/Brassica extras

Cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and brussels sprouts are all the same species, Brassica napus.

Brassicas are threatened by climate change partly because key stages of their development (e.g. flowering) are controlled by the weather – remember the great broccoli shortage of 2017? “Oilseed rape and Brassica vegetable crops have a combined UK market value in excess of £1 billion, but suffer yearly losses of up to £230 million, primarily due to increasingly unfavourable and unpredictable weather patterns.”

BBSRC have research on finding the genes responsible for weather-sensitive development, with a view to making more climate change-resistant varieties with less waste. This led to an ongoing trial to test how these genes work in the field:

More relevant research:
Control of brassica pests: and and
Genomics of Indian mustard to help breed resistance to new diseases:
Getting renewable industrial products from oilseed rape and
Robot broccoli harvester:
Disease-resistant baby kale