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Black Tuscan kale in the garden (and the oven)

Tuscan Kale set against Weigela French Lace (‘Brigela’) also known as Moulin Rouge. Image © GardenPhotos.com
I still get skeptical looks when I point out that this Tuscan kale is a great ornamental plant. I think many people are still worried even about eating kale – which they still think of some sort of punishment – let alone growing it as an ornamental.

So here’s the kale variously known as ‘Nero di Toscano’, Tuscan kale, ‘Lacinato’ and cavolo nero (and also known, according to Wikipedia, as Tuscan cabbage, Italian kale, Dinosaur kale, black kale, flat back cabbage, palm tree kale, and black Tuscan palm)… here it is growing in our Pennsylvania garden. Looks great, doesn’t it?

Behind it is one of the more recent variegated weigela introductions French Lace (‘Brigela’) also known as Moulin Rouge whose splendid variegations ensure that the structure and colour of the kale really stands out. A little ‘Bright Yellow’ chard and variegated Masquerade ('Notbud') buddleia peep into the picture.

‘Nero di Toscano’ kale, or whatever you like to call it, has been grown for centuries. This not only makes clear its resilience and its lasting value, but over the years it has also become rather variable; sometimes, when you grow it, no two plants are quite the same.

Now, a new selection from Britain called ‘Black Magic’ (below, click to enlarge) is becoming available which is much more dependably uniform, and also comes with shorter stems so it's less likely to fall over. As I said when I wrote it up for my Royal Horticultural Society New Plans blog: “As well being uniform in colour, the foliage of ‘Black Magic’ is darker than earlier forms and with more intense puckering. The leaves are a little narrower, it’s much less likely to bolt, and its frost resistance is even better than before.” So why not try it?

And if you’re still skeptical about eating it, try homemade baked kale chips – The Huff Post will tell you how to make them.

In North America, kale ‘Black Magic’ is available from Veseys.

In Britain, kale ‘Black Magic’ is available from Suttons.

Kale 'Black Magic': more uniform, shorter stems, and even tougher. Image ©Tozer Seeds