Fall is the time for root vegetables like turnips and rutabagas. My grandfather (Pop) loved both, especially rutabagas, and my grandmother (Nan) prepared them specifically for him. At the time, I turned up my nose to them with a “yuck” face. Over the years, my tastebuds have changed, and I now enjoy both. I think Nan and Pop would be pleased to know I am growing and consuming them!
Rutabagas and turnips are both members of the Brassicaceae family, commonly called cole crops or cruciferous vegetables. They share some similar characteristics, so if you feel confused about which is which, you aren’t alone. Observing them side by side in my garden was the inspiration for this blog post. The table below highlights some key differences.
Key Differences Between Rutabagas and Turnips
|Scientific Name||Brassica napus||Brassica rapa|
|Additional Common Name(s)||Swedes, nepes|
|Leaves||Thick, smooth, bluish-green||Thin, hairy, dark green|
|Size||Typically harvested at 3-4” in diameter||Typically harvested at 2.5-2.75” in diameter|
|Flesh Color||Usually yellow-fleshed||Usually white-fleshed|
If you haven’t tried these root vegetables since you were knee-high to a grasshopper, I encourage you to be adventurous. If you decide you’d like to grow them, you can find more information at HGIC 1324, Turnips & Rutabagas.