Why Do So Many People Think Broccoli and Cauliflower Are the Same Thing?

Hüseyin Günerergin / EyeEm
They're not, right?

Broccoli and cauliflower: both delicious and both nutritious. The same vegetable, however, they are not. For whatever reason, these two vegetables are often confused for one another, even though they are strikingly different in many ways, including color (yes, there is green cauliflower, but the white variety is by far the most common). Here are some other reasons why broccoli and cauliflower are obviously not the same thing. 

They come from different cultivar groups.

Both broccoli and cauliflower belong to the family Brassicaceae, which also includes cabbage and Brussels sprouts. However, broccoli is a member of the Italica cultivar group, while cauliflower is part of the Botrytis cultivar group. These are obviously two very different cultivar groups.

 

They are structured differently.

Have you ever noticed how you can look between stalks of broccoli, but cauliflower just looks like a solid mass? This is due to each of the vegetables’ distinct fluorescence, which is more loosely dispersed in broccoli and, as a result, makes it easier to discern between stalks. These two vegetables obviously possess two very different amounts of fluorescence.

Their names have different meanings.

The word “broccoli” is derived from Italian and means, “flowering crest of a cabbage.”  The word "cauliflower," on the other hand, comes from Latin, and means, “the flowers of a cabbage.” These are obviously two very different meanings.

They each possses a different number of varieties.

There are three main types of broccoli: Calabrese broccoli, which is the most common, sprouting broccoli, which has many heads with many thin stalks (more like broccolini), and purple cauliflower, which is technically a type of broccoli and not at all confusing. Conversely, there are four major categories of cauliflower: Italian, Northern European annuals, Northwest European biennial and Asian. Within each of these categories, there are a number of different varietals and colors. These two vegetables obviously possess a different number of varieties. 

They are different colors.

Broccoli is green, except when it’s purple and it's cauliflower. Cauliflower is usually white, except when it’s orange or green, and looks like broccoli, or when it’s purple, and it actually is broccoli. These two vegetables are obviously different colors.

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