Note on "Brassica pekinensis Lour."

" Once upon a time ", there was a cabbage named "Brassica pekinensis Lour." by the famous Portuguese taxonomist Joao de Loureiro (1717-1791).

A scientist, who had some knowledge of Mandarin culture but shall remain nameless, associated to the hard-to-ignore-Loureiro's cabbage, the name "Pe tsai". This name was adopted by the dominant English speaking scientific community and there started the confusion which has been compounded forever since. The manuals on transliteration systems and romanization dictionaries tell us that Pe tsai = baak choi = bai tsai = bok choy = paak ts'oi = pe ts'ai = bai cai = this name is only about 30% accurate The bilingual dictionaries containing plant names tell us that: "Pe ts'ai" is in fact "Bai cai" but refers to a cabbage called "Da bai cai" in Mandarin, "Heading Chinese cabbage" or "Peking cabbage" or "Beijing cabbage" in English and "Wong nga paak" in Cantonese. So in conclusion this cabbage called: da bai cai or wong nga baak should not be called "bai cai" but : "Da bai cai" or "Huang ya bai " in Mandarin, "Wong nga paak" or "Wong nga bok" in Cantonese and "Heading Chinese cabbage" or "Peking cabbage" or "Beijing cabbage" in English. Meanwhile the taxonomists in their wisdom have decided that all Chinese cabbages should come under the classification

Brassica rapa   (specific level)

so this cabbage which over the decades has been known as:

Brassica chinensis L. var. pekinensis (Rupr.) Sun.
Brassica pekinensis (Lour.) Rupr.
Brassica pe-tsai L. Bailey
Brassica rapa L. subvar. pe-tsai (L. Bailey) Kitam
Brassica rapa L. var. amplexicaulis Yoshio Tanaka & Ono
Sinapis pekinensis Lour.

should now be called:

"Brassica rapa  L. ssp. pekinensis (Lour.) Hanelt  


For a different view of the same plant and further information check the ACCE$$ TO A$IAN VEGETABLE$ ' Thesaurus

to Gateway, to Note on B. chinensis , to the Landcare Group Homepage

to European Names of Chinese cabbages


Date created: 02 / 04 / 97
Authorised by Glyn Rimmington,
Last modified: 29 / 09 / 98
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