The Backyard Larder

A place to explore and buy perennial vegetables and other food plants.

Introducing the Purple Tree Collard

Purple tree collard

This is a very special plant on my allotment because it took me ages to get one! I learnt about the purple tree collard probably from watching John Kohler’s YouTube videos about the perennial vegetables he grows in America. They seemed to be unobtainable here and for ages I couldn’t find anyone who would ship cuttings to the UK, and when I finally did, I failed with them! But London grower, Harry Hašek, who had managed to get some from the US, came to the rescue and we did a plant swap.

Purple tree collard

Purple tree collards are tall, long-lived perennial kales which can grow to about 240cm. The leaves are green when young but soon turn a gorgeous purply-red colour. The tones seem to be especially vivid in colder weather.

But cold weather may be the one drawback to these plants as they are said to be hardy to only about -5 deg C. My oldest plant has survived two winters outside so far. As it was precious, I did give it a bit of polythene wrapping for protection. The winters were mild so this might not have been necessary. I think I will overwinter some rooted cuttings in a cold greenhouse this winter and let the plants on the allotments take their chances.

Purple tree collard

The flavour of the leaves is excellent. Not bitter, and yes I suppose I could say they are ‘nutty’ – except that kales are always being described as nutty (I must eat some nuts alongside them and see if they really are!). My favourite kale for flavour is Portuguese kale, with Daubenton a close second. Well purple tree collards come in equal second with Daubenton now! (I’m growing Taunton Deane kale too now, another tall perennial kale, always rated very highly for flavour by those who grow it. But it is a young plant and I haven’t eaten much of it to judge it for myself yet.)

I’ve started to take cuttings of the purple tree collards to sell. There are a few in the shop at the time of writing this post, and I’ll put some more in there as often as I can –  so that you can have an easier time getting hold of this lovely plant than I did!

6 comments on “Introducing the Purple Tree Collard”

    It sounds great ….I just put in my order ! Debs 🙂

    Reply

    Thanks Debs, I think you’ll like it, it is certainly growing on me!

    Reply

    Hi
    Just read this article re” tree collards” i too watch John Kolhors chanel.
    I am an English man in Japan and no way to get collards here.
    The japanese JA japan agriculture hAs a monopoly on most things and dont import much of anything.
    On my my next visit to UK i would like to get cuttings.
    Can you please supply me with address/ email of supplier.
    Thanks
    Chris

    Reply

    Hi Chris,
    I can supply cuttings. Go to Contact in the menu at the top of the page for my email address.

    Reply

    Hello, I’ve just found this article when I was doing a Google search. By any chance do you still have some cuttings? I have an allotment and I’d love to try this. I’ve been reading about it since a long time ago but I never found someone that grew it here in the UK.
    Thank you!

    Reply

    Hi Basilio,
    Yes I have lots of cuttings developing roots at the moment (I sell them as plants) and let interested people know when i have one ready for them. I will add your name to the list.

    Reply

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