Purple Tree Collards

We’ve been growing these for 20 years and they are still our favorite variety of Tree Collard. When most people talk about Tree Collards, this is usually the one they are talking about.  Purple tree collards produce all year long and taste especially good in colder weather. They turn darker purple tones in Winter and are lighter blue-green in warm months. They rarely go to seed and we have not figured out why they go to seed. It does NOT seem to be stress induced. Purple Tree Collards are sometimes called in Great Britain but it appears to be essentially the same plant.

Merritt Tree Collard

This plant is from a chance cross at a local community college. They are a vigorous with large leaves measuring over 2 ft’ and weighing over 1/2 pound. They are more compact and narrow than other tree collards and don’t get anywhere near as leggy. They do often go to seed in spring but they are still productive in the flowering/seed pod phase. Plants grow up to 7 feet tall after 5 years.  You can propagate from the very thick stalks it makes by cutting them with a saw and sticking them in a large pot with high quality potting soil. You can save seed and propagate these seeds.  If you have other brassicas blooming at the same time, you will get some interesting hybrids because they cross pollinate.

Green Tree Collards

These are grown the same as purple tree collards, but they seem to max out at 5-6 feet and are green with light green ribs.  They seed heavily in mid Spring and are less productive during that time.  Let them flower and set seed before you cut them back.  They taste milder than purple tree collards and look more like collard traditional collard greens.

Dino Tree Kale/Collards

Dino Tree Kale/Collards
These are from a seedling grown by Rebecca Newburn, whose purple tree collards flowered at the same time as her Lacinato (dino) kale and she saved the seeds and grew them out. This was her favorite of the seedlings. It looks somewhat like a lacinato kale plant, but grows more or less like a small tree collard. The main drawback is that it has flowered vigorously each spring, which slows down leaf production. You can eat these flower shoots like small broccoli. Once they have flowered and set some seed you can cut back the flower stalks and the plants will resume leaf production. They have a milder taste than purple tree collards and kale.  They grow to 4-5 feet maximum.

D’Aubenton Kale (Variegated Perennial Kale)

This in an edible and ornamental perennial kale that grows to a nice compact 2-3’ bush and doesn’t get leggy and woody like tree collards can.  You can plant them in your garden and many people won’t even know that they are an edible plant. We prefer the productivity and vigor of purple tree collards if you just want production, but these are a great ornamental edible.  In our experience, they don’t bloom.

Jolly Green Tree Collard

Jolly Green Tree Collard is a 2020 introduction and extremely limited perennial tree collard. It is a naturally occurring garden hybrid from the Berkeley Farm that appears to be a cross between the Merritt Tree Collard, Green Tree Collard, and maybe even Purple Tree Collard. Jolly Green Tree Collard gets between 6 and 10 feet in height, and appears to naturally branch into a large shrub form. Within the first year or two, it forms a 1 inch diameter trunk.

Once Jolly Green reaches 2-3 feet in height, it is best tied to a sturdy stake as it can be top heavy in storms and high winds. Leaves can get up to 2 feet long and are a bright to medium green color with lighter stems. They are smooth like annual Collards, but much larger. It doesn’t not appear to be a big bloomer which means it is much more productive through the spring than some other tree collards. Because it is a new introduction, at this time its cold hardiness and heat tolerance is unknown. Based on past experience, it should be at least as cold and heat tolerant as its parentage. One can expect it to be good in zones 8-11, and probably marginal in zones 7A and 7B.

Big Blue Tree Collard

Big Blue Tree Collards are a 2020 introduction and extremely limited perennial tree collard. It is a naturally occurring garden hybrid from the Berkeley Farm that appears to be a cross between the Merritt Tree Collard, Dino Tree Collard, and maybe even Purple Tree Collard. Big Blue gets between 3 and 8 feet in height, and appears to naturally branch into a mid-sized shrub form.  Within the first year or two, wide stalks 1-2 inches in diameter can form.

Once Big Blue reaches 2-3 feet in height, it would be best tied to a sturdy stake as it can be top heavy in storms and high winds. Leaves can get up to 1 1/2 feet long and are a stunning blue-green color with a hint of pink/purple in the stems.  They are crinkly like Dino Tree Collards, but much wider and less linear. Because it is a new introduction, at this time its cold hardiness and heat tolerance is unknown.  Based on past experience, it should be at least as cold and heat tolerant as its parentage.  One can expect it to be good in zones 8-11, and probably marginal in zones 7A and 7B.