Tuscan Black Palm Kale

December 27, 2005

Growing Tuscan Black Palm Kale is a great idea if you’d like to create an edible garden that also stands out for its ornamental appeal. Tuscan Black Palm Kale is not only attractive, but many gourmet gardeners consider it to be the finest tasting kale around, and I tend to agree with them.

This heirloom variety goes by a number of aliases including: Lacinato, Nero Di Toscana, and Dinosaur kale. The cold hardy plants produce an abundance of delicious greens and can be grown from spring through fall. Plant and raise Palm Kale the same way that you would grow other common kale varieties. The leaves can be harvested a few at a time throughout the growing season, or all at once at the end of the season.

The name, Tuscan Black Palm Kale, provides a few clues regarding this heirloom vegetable’s history and its ornamental appearance in the garden. I believe that palm kale does trace its roots back to Italy, and to this day it’s “the kale” variety grown and enjoyed there.

The color, while not black, is a very dark and unusual bluish green that sets the plant apart from everything else growing in the garden. The “Palm” in its name refers to the way that the leaves branch off of the stem and hang similar to the form of a palm tree.

Some of the characteristics not revealed by its name include this kales tall stature. Mature plants can easily grow to four feet in height by three feet wide. The long, narrow leaves have a rough, blistered texture that adds to its unique appearance. And then there’s the flavor, if you enjoy fresh leafy greens, you’ll love the taste of Tuscan Black Palm Kale, especially after it’s been seasoned by a few fall frosts.

For the best effect I like to group these beautiful edible plants in clusters of four or five plants where their height and unusual form can stand out. Palm kales make an excellent background for shorter veggies, or create an eye catching focal point by growing them in a central area of the garden. They will need to be staked as they mature to keep them standing upright.

So whether you call it Tuscan Black Palm Kale, Lacinato, Dinosaur Kale, or simply Toscana, be sure to include this great heirloom in your next ornamental vegetable garden.

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