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Difference Between Tree Collards And Collard Greens

It is interesting how popular vegetables like cabbages, broccoli, kale, collard greens and Brussels sprouts are more closely related than you would initially think that they are.

These vegetables are different cultivars of single specie known as ‘Brassica oleracea,’ and they all originate from wild cabbages that have been bred selectively over many years.

Many more cultivars of this single specie apart from the ones listed above also exists.

They are also obtained by selectively breeding for particular properties, or by cross breeding already existing cultivars of this same specie.

Many of the cultivars of these species that you might already be familiar with are biennials.

However, within this same species are several cultivars which are perennials with very interesting properties different from other cultivars of this specie.

Collards is one of the many cultivars of the Brassica oleracae that we are familiar with. It is a biennial plants which is often cultivated as an annual for its thick leaves.

Collards or collard greens as they are sometimes known belongs to the acephala group of Brassica oleracae. 

Tree collards are also another cultivar of Brassica oleracae belonging to the acephala group, but unlike collard greens, tree collards are grown as perennials.

Although tree collards have thick leaves like collard greens, tree collards have a long stem which sets them apart.

I had to do some research into these two cultivars of Brassica oleracae to find out how they are both different.

Differences between tree collards and collard greens

These are the differences that I found between these two cultivars.


Perhaps the most obvious difference between these two plants is the massive difference in their height.

Collard greens have shorter stems, their height can reach about 2 feet and may be composed mostly of the thick broad leaves of their plants.

Tree collards have exceptionally tall stems, some been reported to reach heights of up to 20 feet.

This massive height difference between collard greens and tree collards could sometimes make harvesting from tree collard difficult.

Tree collard might have to be pruned so that they could remain at an accessible height.


The leaves of tree collards and collards are quite alike in appearance, The leaves of tree collards grow large as collard greens.

The arrangement of their leaves is similar as well. It doesn’t produce a central head like a cabbage while the leaves are arranged in a rosette.

However, tree collard usually has some purple colored leaves on their stems.

Life cycle

Collard greens are actually biennials but are cultivated as annuals, the plants produce leaves in one growing season after which the plant produces flower and seed n the second growing season.

Tree collards are perennials and they can keep producing leaves for three to five years continuously 


Collard greens and tree collards are cultivated very much differently. Collard greens produce seed and flowers in the second growing season and they are cultivated by seeds.

Tree collard on the other hand rarely go to seed, and therefore you might to cultivate them using cuttings and not seeds.


One other thing brassicas are known for is their bitter taste

Collard greens have a characteristic bitter taste similar to kale.

The leaves of tree collards also have that bitter taste, although it has been described as less bitter than collard greens.

Read; What makes kale leaves bitter?

Collard greens description

Collards, collard greens or colewort as they are sometimes known are used for their large and thick green leaves.

Their leaves may to be used to makes several dishes or to wrap other foods.

Collards are part of the acephala group of brassica olercaea, which is a group that doesn’t have a central head within a rosette of leaves.

Older classifications might place collard greens in the viridis group.

These plants can grow from two to three feet in height. Their leaves are dark green, thick and broader than kale leaves and also not curled as in kale leaves.

Collards are actually biennials but they are grown as annuals.

In the first year of cultivating them, they produce their leaves which also reaches full size. They are usually harvested in the first year.

If left for a second year, they produce flowers with four yellow petals which are also edible and seeds.

They are cultivated by seed and these plants love the cold temperature.

The leaves are edible and low in calories, They taste like kales, but have a lesser bitter taste

Nutritionally collards are rich in dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron, copper, and manganese.

Tree collards description

Tree collards are actually made up of several Brassica oleracae plants that have similar qualities

With heights that can grow beyond 10 feet, tree collards stand out from most of the other Brassica oleracae cultivars due to this height. Although there are other tall members of the specie such as the tree kale.

Tree collards are also part of the acephala group, their plants have a rosette of leaves without a central head.  They may have large and thick green leaves just like collard, although they are often purple in color.

These plants were initially cultivated as fodder for livestock.

Unlike collard greens, tree collards are perennials and can keep producing leaves for several years .

With such a long height, the plants of tree collards often require supports for stability, and they might also be a need for pruning these plants so that their leaves do not grow to height that are difficult to reach.

They are usually cultivated by cutting as these plants rarely produce flowers and seeds

The leaves of tree collards also has a similar taste as the kale but is less bitter. The leaves also have a similar nutritional profile as collard greens

In conclusion

If you looked at the leaves of the tree collard, you might think that they are just collard greens.

However, collard greens and tree collards have some differences that sets them apart in their life cycle and their plants.

They are both incredible and highly nutritious vegetables.