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I collected a whole bunch of broccoli seeds last year. I think they were packman hybrid broccoli.

This year my 'broccoli' grew prolifically, but bolted exceptionally quick. I thought I had planted kale instead. But then I remembered the source of the seed.

So, I'm keeping them in the garden while they flower because the bees love them, but what do I have exactly? Is there any way to know? Are they a new species of weed?

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If you planted broccoli seed from a hybrid, one thing is pretty certain:

You'll get broccoli. :)

Beyond that, however, what you won't be sure to get is the hybrid that was the parent because that's one of the characteristics of the hybrids - their seeds are going to vary.

Does this matter at all?

Well, the answer to that question is "it depends" because it might not matter one bit to you that you won't get "packman" broccoli. It might only matter to you that you get broccoli, right?

There's no easy way for the layman gardener to "know" what you have there (beyond "broccoli") because those seeds are going to produce - or at least have the high likelihood of producing - a varied array of broccoli.

The variations aren't likely to be monumental though. You might not even notice.

"Are they a new species of weed?"

Well, not if you want them there, right? What's the definition of a "weed"? My dad views clover and dandelion as weeds in the lawn. I don't.

The variety of plants (and the offspring of those) will differ on some level from the parents but probably not significantly. If non-uniformity doesn't bother you (it doesn't bother me one bit) then it is fun to see what grows. The only down side - if there is one - is that you are living in the "wild west" of broccoli. You'll get what you get.

And that might be just fine.

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  • Well if they're broccoli, they bolted right away and I didn't get florets, I just got flowers. However, bolted young broccoli looks nicer than bolted old broccoli. I figure I'll just leave it until it gets ugly – Peter Turner Jun 18 '13 at 12:25
  • Yeah, my assumption is you've got broccoli there. I've had seeds from packets that bolted w/out ever making broccoli. Here in VA the quick heat-up tends (and my inability to get it in the ground early enough) tends to make broccoli just bolt and never produce much here. – itsmatt Jun 18 '13 at 12:29
  • In Wisconsin, it's been a great year for broccoli and all its cousins. I've got great kale and kohlrabi. My cabbage, brussels sprouts and cauliflower are similarly doing great. Even the "broccoli" looks good. – Peter Turner Jun 18 '13 at 12:49
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    This answer isn't really correct. The second sentence which is the answer the rest being mostly fluff and details, is what's incorrect. What you'll get is definately a brassica but not necessarily broccoli. – Escoce Apr 1 '16 at 14:52
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Brassica oleracea is the species of plant that includes many common foods as cultivars, including cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, savoy, kohlrabi and kai-lan.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brassica_oleracea

If your plants were anywhere close to other vegetables of the same species, it's very likely their seed has been contaminated.

The result would be a more ancestral plant, with fewer of the derived traits one would expect from each parent. I think that's what you are seeing.

It's possible that hybrid means you already have a broccoli x non-broccoli cross, rather than broccoli x broccoli, so you could even get seeds that are mostly non-broccoli from hybrid broccoli alone.

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