Archive for September 13th, 2011

Bok Choy – Brassica rapa L. ssp. chinensis

Bok Choy
Bok Choy

a baby bok choy
on the floor 
in a skirt of leaves
midst the pallor
ambitious turnips


By Christina Conrad 

This native of Asia is not longer known in the wild, only under cultivation. This plant was introduced from China to Europe in the 1800’s. It is a popular vegetable in the Philippines, China, Korean, and Thai cuisines. In North America is remains a staple in Chinese foods, but has never made the transition into use in American dishes. Bok Choy can be eaten raw with dips, or chopped into salads. In Chinese it is incorporated into stir fries, and also into soups.


In herbal medicine Bok Choy is specific for treatment of bones, much like celery or rhubarb. It has 23% sodium, the same as bones do. When the body is low in sodium it will draw it out of the bones, weakening them. The bok choy helps to keep the bones strong by replenishing them. It is also used to treat ulcers, and is showing promise in the treatment of cancer.


These cabbages have been under cultivation for over 6,000 years, being a common part of the Chinese diet by the 5th century. In companion planting they make good neighbors to Artemisia, beans, dill, endive, peas, chamomile, potatoes, lettuce, coriander, cumin, leeks, chard, mint, beets, celery, spinach, tomatoes. Rosemary and sage are good planted with any of the cabbage family of vegetables. Bok Choy has issues when grown with strawberries, mustard, garlic or onions.