Mustard Greens vs. Kale: What’s the Difference?

Written by Larissa Smith
Updated: August 3, 2023
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If you want an easy way to grow healthy vegetables that support your health in almost all areas, look no further! Mustard greens and kale are not new vegetables, although many are only hearing of them due to their recent rise in popularity over the last decade.

Living and maintaining a well and balanced lifestyle can be difficult. However, one fundamental way to live healthier, eat better, and create a garden with various plants is to grow vegetables such as mustard greens and kale.

Mustard greens range in color from bright green to purple and are the ideal addition to any landscape wanting to add a pop of color in addition to the pop of taste they provide. With leaves that can be curled and straight, Mustard Greens are a fantastic way to add a bit of diversity to any garden or landscape. Kale is a plant that comes in various colors. Kale comes in colors ranging from blue-green, light green, red, and even purple, depending on the season!

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So whether you are trying to add flashes of color to your garden or want to cultivate a fresh batch of vegetables for your everyday lifestyle, mustard greens and kale are the perfect addition. Let’s discover all the differences!

Comparing Mustard Greens and Kale

Mustard GreensKale
ClassificationKingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Brassicales
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Brassica
Species: Brassica juncea
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Brassicales
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Brassica
Species: Brassica oleracea
OriginIndia, AsiaEurope, Asia
Description– Mustard greens can grow up to 2 feet tall
– Come in colors ranging from green to purple
– Mustard greens can bloom in 40 days
– Kale can grow 1-2 feet tall and 1-2 feet wide
– Typically comes in blue-gree, green, and red colors
– Once planted, kale blooms in 30-40 days
How to Grow– Full sunlight but can tolerate partial shade
– Use moist, well-fertilized soil
– Soil pH 5.5-6.8
– Keep soil moist at all times
– Harvest younger leaves when they reach 4-5 inches
– Full sun to partial shade
– Use loamy, well-draining soil
– Acidic soil pH
– Water daily

Mustard Greens vs. Kale: Classification and Origin

Although mustard greens and kale have overlapping qualities, both belong to the same genus Brassica but are cultivars of different species.

Mustard greens are plants that originate from the regions of India and Asia. There are four subgroups of cultivars:

  1. Juncea
  2. Integrifolia
  3. Tsatsai
  4. Napiformis

Due to being rich in vitamins and antioxidants, these plants are an ideal food with many other uses. In addition, these plants provide a fantastic explosion of taste and are also healthy and good for you to consume regularly.

On the other hand, kale is native to European and Asian countries. Due to its ability to thrive in cold weather conditions, this plant became a fast favorite in its native nations and got its name after its family origins.

Both plants are easy to grow and are relatively to moderately low maintenance. However, due to the fast-growing nature of these plants, it is essential to plant them in the correct season and under the right conditions to ensure you get fresh vegetables from your garden.

Close up of a curly kale plant in a vegetable garden.

Mustard greens and kale (pictured) belong to the same genus Brassica but are cultivars of different species.


Mustard Greens vs. Kale: Description

The mustard greens and kale plants are usually well known for their flavor and use. However, any plant lover looking to spruce up their garden with bright colors and a variety of shapes should consider planting these two.

Mustard greens receive their name from the color of their seedlings and the taste of the plant. It grows from a yellow mustard seedling into a beautiful green or purple. They typically have a vibrant green color with wavy or frill-like leaves. Once the plant is mature, the leaves of the plant get supported by a sturdy and thick green stem. From the peppery and slightly bitter taste to the bright green leaves, it’s easy to see where the mustard greens got their name.

Kale is a dark leafy green that typically comes in beautiful blue-green, bright green, and red colors. It helps to provide plant lovers with an excellent source of calories and vitamins. Kale belongs to the same family as cabbage. As such, it retains the earthy and nutty flavor that cabbages are known for. With a thick stem and broad leaves that often branch out into bright green and dark purple colors, this vegetable is fast becoming a favorite amongst the public.

Plants like mustard greens and kale are ideal for plant lovers who want to harvest vegetables that will benefit them and their bodies in the long run!

Mustard Greens vs. Kale: Uses

Mustard greens have been used for many purposes throughout the years, including:

  • Great source of food, fiber, and vitamins
  • Used as a natural antiseptic to treat wounds in the past
  • Act as a diuretic and helps to support Kidney function
  • Act as a detoxifying agent and thus help to purify and strengthen your blood
  • Used to treat coughing and sore throat

Kale is a versatile, delicious, and easy-to-grow vegetable used in various ways. Whether harvesting it for its leaves or using it as an ingredient in your favorite dishes, kale is a great addition to any garden.

Kale is a cruciferous vegetable with the following benefits:

  • Loaded with antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, flavonoids, polyphenols, and vitamin C
  • Consuming kale regularly can lower your cholesterol and risk of heart disease
  • High in vitamin K
  • Kale is high in minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, and potassium
Woman hand holding a bunch of kale leaves over yellow background.

Kale (pictured) and mustard greens are low-maintenance vegetables that are easy to grow in your garden.


Mustard Greens vs. Kale: How to Grow

Growing Mustard Greens

Mustard Greens can grow in warmer temperatures but perform best in the cooler seasons. We know that you have a lot of options when it comes to what to plant in your garden this year, but if you’re looking for something that will add some springtime color and flavor to your meals while also keeping things interesting (and easy), then you should plant some mustard greens.

Growing mustard greens tips:

  • Full sunlight but can tolerate partial shade
  • Use moist, well-fertilized soil
  • Soil pH 5.5-6.8
  • Keep soil moist at all times
  • Harvest younger leaves when they reach 4-5 inches

Growing Kale

Kale plants are straightforward plants to propagate. These plants are, however, a little sensitive to warmer temperatures and can produce a woody and slightly bitter taste in warmer temperatures.

Growing kale tips:

  • Full sun to partial shade
  • Use loamy, well-draining soil
  • Acidic soil pH
  • Water daily

In summary, if you are going to plant mustard greens or kale, you should do so before the fall to ensure that the plants bloom at the correct time. Once you have propagated your plants, you must ensure that the mustard greens and kale receive a regular amount of water and are placed in direct sunlight to grow to their maximum height.

Final Thoughts

These plants are a quick and easy way to ensure that you have access to fresh vegetables that will improve every facet of your life, from the additional vitamins to health benefits such as purifying blood and strengthening the functions of various organs.

From the slight peppery taste of mustard greens to the earthy flavor of kale, these plants are a must-have for any plant lover wanting to add splashes of color to their garden and increase the variety of foods you intake.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Pravruti/

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About the Author

Larissa Smith is a writer for A-Z Animals with years of experience in plant care and wildlife. After years spent in the South African bush while studying Nature Conservation, she found her way to writing about animals and plants in her work. She hopes to inspire others to appreciate and care for the precious world around them. Larissa lives in Florida with her two sons, a miniature golden retriever named Pupples, and a colorful succulent garden. In her spare time, she is tending to her garden, adventuring with her kids, and hosting “Real Housewives” watch parties with her friends.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How do you know when to harvest mustard greens and kale?

Mustard greens are ripe and ready to harvest when the plant has grown to at least 3 or 4 feet in height. Kale leaves are ready for harvest when the leaves have to be around the size of your hand. It is important to remember to harvest only one-third of the plant when growing kale to ensure the plant continues to thrive.

Are collard greens and mustard greens the same thing?

No. Although both plants are similar, they come from different plant families. For example, mustard greens are a type of herb, whereas collard greens are a part of the cabbage family.

Is kale healthier than spinach?

Both kale and spinach are nutritious. Spinach is higher in folate and vitamin A than kale, while kale is higher in vitamin C.

Is it better to eat kale raw or cooked?

Kale is better to eat raw because cooking can reduce the nutrient profile.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

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  2. Healthline, Available here:
  3. Wikipedia, Available here:
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