Turnip Greens vs Collard Greens: What’s the Difference?

Written by August Croft
Published: August 15, 2022
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While they may seem strikingly similar to one another, there are a number of differences between turnip greens vs collard greens. Both are fantastic options in terms of incorporating more vegetables into a well-balanced diet, but is one more nutritious than the other, and which has a more delicious flavor? 

In this article, we will compare and contrast turnip greens and collard greens so that you get a full picture of both of these options. We will address what they look like physically as well as what they taste like, and all of the ways in which they are commonly used. Let’s get started and talk about these two distinct types of greens now! 

Comparing Turnip Greens vs Collard Greens

Turnip Greens vs Collard Greens
While they belong to the same plant family and are technically related, turnip greens and collard greens are classified differently.

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Turnip GreensCollard Greens
ClassificationBrassica rapa subsp. rapaBrassica oleracea subsp. viridis
DescriptionLeaves grown from the tops of the turnip plant, though some varieties are grown without this bulb or root. Deep green in color with ruffled edges; smaller leaves are less bitter than large leavesBundled dark green leaves with veins and scalloped edges. Some stems are present, but leaves are very large and feel like spinach to the touch. Slightly bitter taste, but valued for texture and thickness.
UsesUsed in sautees, steamed, boiled, and raw in salads, though only delicate leaves should be used in this way. Eaten in China and Japan as well as the American South, particularly during the 1700s-1800sUsed in a variety of cuisines around the world, including India, Africa, Europe and the United States, particularly in the South. Can be eaten raw or sauteed, steamed, roasted, in soups, and more. Taste does not change with age, but the leaves are tastiest in the wintertime
Nutrition InformationFull of Vitamin K, A, and folate, as well as calciumHighly nutritious and full of Vitamin K, A, and C, as well as manganese
Special Features and Fun FactsStrong flavor initially, but mellows through a number of cooking methods!Built to withstand more frost than spinach, and more heat than lettuce!

Key Differences Between Turnip Greens vs Collard Greens

Turnip Greens vs Collard Greens
Turnip greens may be packaged with longer stems compared to the short stems found on the average collard greens.

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There are a number of key differences between turnip greens and collard greens. For example, turnip greens are members of the rapa species, while collard greens are members of the oleracea species. In addition, collard greens are typically larger than turnip greens. Turnip greens grow from the turnip root, while collard greens grow as individual leaves.

Let’s discuss all of these differences in more detail now.

Turnip Greens vs Collard Greens: Classification

While they belong to the same plant family and are technically related, turnip greens and collard greens are classified differently. For example, turnip greens belong to the rapa species which includes cabbage and mustard greens, while collard greens belong to the oleracea species which includes broccoli and kale. This is a subtle difference between the two greens, but it directly affects the ways they grow and what they taste like.

Turnip Greens vs Collard Greens: Description

Turnip Greens vs Collard Greens
For the most part, the leaves of collard greens are thicker and heavier compared to the leaves of turnip greens.

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You may have a tough time telling the difference between turnip greens and collard greens if you are comparing them side by side. Depending on the variety of both of these greens, they can look strikingly similar to one another. However, collard greens tend to be larger in size compared to turnip greens, and their leaves are much larger as well.  

Texturally and flavor-wise, turnip greens and collard greens are strikingly similar as well. For the most part, the leaves of collard greens are thicker and heavier compared to the leaves of turnip greens. In addition, turnip greens may be packaged with longer stems compared to the short stems found on the average collard greens.

Turnip Greens vs Collard Greens: Uses

Turnip Greens vs Collard Greens
Both of these greens cook well and thrive in a variety of climates, including cold winters and hot summers, but collard greens are hardier than turnip greens overall.

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Given their similarities in taste and texture, you can use turnip greens and collard greens in many similar ways. For example, turnip greens and collard greens are commonly steamed, sauteed, or roasted, as well as eaten raw in salads. When it comes to heat, collard greens hold up better to it, while turnip greens are more likely to wilt and turn mushy.

Turnip greens and collard greens have been prepared around the world for a number of years, but both of these greens hold a special place in the cuisine of the southern United States. Both of these greens cook well and thrive in a variety of climates, including cold winters and hot summers, but collard greens are hardier than turnip greens overall.

Turnip Greens vs Collard Greens: Nutrition Information

Both collard greens and turnip greens have a lot to offer in terms of their nutritional value. They are similar in that they both offer high levels of Vitamin K, C, A, and fiber. You can get a decent amount of manganese from collard greens consumption, and you can get a decent amount of  calcium from eating turnip greens.

Turnip Greens vs Collard Greens: Special Features

Turnip Greens vs Collard Greens
When it comes to heat, collard greens hold up better to it, while turnip greens are more likely to wilt and turn mushy.

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Collard greens and turnip greens have a special place in multiple cuisines around the world, but what else makes them special? Well, collard greens are more frost resistant and heat resistant than other vegetables in their plant family, while turnip greens mellow in flavor should you choose to cook them. Both of these plants are easy to grow, and you may even be interested in harvesting the turnip found underneath all of the fantastic turnip greens attached to it!


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About the Author

I am a non-binary freelance writer working full-time in Oregon. Graduating Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre and a specialization in creative writing, I have an invested interest in a variety of topics, particularly Pacific Northwest history. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping along the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my home kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast iron skillet.

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