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Collard Greens could well be regarded as one of the most humble, one of the most underappreciated, but also, along with kale, one of the most powerful plants in Robbins Farm Garden.

Some people, in fact, do not even accord them a separate identity as a group of plants. They treat collard greens as a subset of kale, a plant to which they are indeed very closely related.

Though both of these are leafy members of the cabbage family, however, they do have a some important differences. Kales tend to have long, narrow, crinkled, grayish leaves. In contrast, collard greens' leaves are shorter and more oval in shape. They're much more smooth in texture and more green in color. Collard greens also tend to have a somewhat milder taste than kale, their stronger and more bitter cousin.

These differences aside, however, they are indeed the two old-timers of the Cabbage family. Both have been around thousands of years longer than Mr. Cabbage-with-a-Head, who now claims the official title of "cabbage." The word "collard" comes, by the way, from "kohlwort," one of the German words for cabbage. So there.

Soul Food

In the United States, collard greens are associated in many people's minds with soul food and the Southeastern part of the U.S. Some people think, in fact, that these full-of-flavor leaves are called "colored greens," based on the fact that they were traditionally eaten by "colored people," a term used many years ago to refer to African-Americans. In that, people are mistaken. Collard greens really mean "cabbage greens."

Like kale, collard greens are full of good things for you. They contain lots of vitamin C and vitamin A, plus a bunch of important minerals like manganese, copper, calcium and potassium.

If you haven't ever tasted them, you should sometime consider giving them a try.