The Collards

In 2016 Seed Savers Exchange, in collaboration with Ira Wallace at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, requested over 60 varieties from the USDA to trial at Seed Savers Exchange, Heritage Farm in Decorah, Iowa. These varieties were collected by Edward H. Davis and John T. Morgan from seed savers across the Southeast, mostly in North and South Carolina. These varieties were identified as rare heirlooms and the intention was to regenerate them and share the seed with seed savers across the country. Only fragments of the full story of these varieties were collected by Edward H. Davis and John T. Morgan. There is remarkable diversity in this unique collection!  Most of the seed savers contacted by Davis and Morgan were over the age of 60 and did not have willing recipients to share their seeds with the next generation of seed savers. The core collection of collards forms the basis for our work to educate, promote, share and save these collards.

Tabitha Dykes Heirloom Collard Variety

Collard Seed Stewards

We are working with a skilled group of seed savers to grow, save and steward these heirloom collard varieties. If you are a seed saver and want to steward one of these varieties then please get in touch for more information.

White Cabbage Collard Heirloom Variety

Collards GROWERS

These collards are delicious and diverse. As we slowly regenerate seed stock the seeds will be available through Ujamaa Seeds, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and Seed Savers Exchange. Grab some seeds and grow some collards!

Brickhouse Old Heirloom Collard Variety

Collard Community

These collards are inspiring all sorts of creative collard focused projects from academic research to plant breeding to artwork, food and celebration. We invite you to get inspired and stay in touch. We want to share your work.

A Guide to Collards

Beyond the commercial collard, there is substantial variation among heirloom collards that have been grown and perpetuated by numerous farmers and gardeners in the Southeastern states. These collards are often classified or labeled by the seed savers who maintain them with names that describe their general type. The groupings primarily focus on plant habits, leaf characteristics and other observable traits

Collard Sub-type - Heading Collard

Heading Collards

A few heirlooms are collard-like in their early growth stages but begin to form a leafy structure akin to a small, loose cabbage head as the plants mature. The heads of these heirlooms occur due to very shortened petioles, or even a near lack of petioles, that causes developing leaves to curl into a heading structure.

Collard Subtypes - Tree Collards

Tree Collards

Several heirlooms grow much taller than typical collards, obtaining a small tree-like structure over a long growing season (or at least taller than an average person!). These collards can also survive multiple seasons in mild climates. Unlike most collard types, these heirlooms have stems that elongate more than normal, leading to their taller nature. For more information on these unique plants, visit projecttreecollard.org.

Collard Sub-types - Cabbage Collards

Cabbage Collards

One of the most common labels seed savers, mostly in the Carolinas, give to their heirlooms is “cabbage collard.” This collard type typically doesn’t form a cabbage-like “head” for much of its life, but may form a loose central head if it is left to grow for an extended season. The leaves are typically large with significant petioles. A large number of cabbage collard heirlooms have a lighter yellow green color.

Collard Subtypes - Curly Leaf Collards

Curly Leaf Collards

Some seed savers have maintained collard heirlooms that have highly serrated leaves much different than most collards, and these are often described as “curly-leafed.” The degree of serration can be subtle or particularly pronounced in varieties that more resemble kale than collards.

Collard Subtypes - glossy or glazed collards

Glazed Collards

Some heirlooms exhibit a shiny leaf appearance. Glossy characteristics occur due to gene mutations that control waxes that cover leaves. In general, a “glossy” leaf usually exhibits less wax on its surface than normal leaves, and this results in the glazed appearance.

Collard Subtypes - colored collards

Colored Collards

Color variation can occur in any of the above types that are described. Most color variations range from yellow green to green to blue green. Heirlooms that have a leaf hue that falls outside that spectrum are rarer and more atypical.  When these atypical colors (e.g., purple or red) are exhibited, seed savers often incorporate the color into the name of their collard. Colors can also exhibit in the petiole, the leaf veins and the leaf itself.   

Below is a portfolio of heirloom collards in the Seed Savers Exchange collection. We hope to continue to profile and add varieties to this list to increase awareness and use of these varieties. You can filter the collection using the categories below.

Louisiana Sweet – 92

Louisiana Sweet – 92

Buddy Brickhouse – 78

Buddy Brickhouse – 78

Lyda Gibbs – 79

Lyda Gibbs – 79

Drusilla DeLone – 80

Drusilla DeLone – 80

Bum Dennis Cabbage Collard – 81

Bum Dennis Cabbage Collard – 81

William Moore – 82

William Moore – 82

Cabbage Collard – 83

Cabbage Collard – 83

Fulton Stroud – 84

Fulton Stroud – 84

Big Daddy Old Fashioned Bluestem – 85

Big Daddy Old Fashioned Bluestem – 85

Yellow Cabbage Collard – 86

Yellow Cabbage Collard – 86

Morris Improved Heading – 87

Morris Improved Heading – 87

Fuzzy’s Cabbage Collard – 70

Fuzzy’s Cabbage Collard – 70

Nancy Malone Wheat Purple Collard – 56

Nancy Malone Wheat Purple Collard – 56

R.L. Alexander – 57

R.L. Alexander – 57

Tabitha Dykes – 58

Tabitha Dykes – 58

Old Timey Blue – 59

Old Timey Blue – 59

Old-Fashioned – 61

Old-Fashioned – 61

Cabbage Collard – 62

Cabbage Collard – 62

Susan Turner – 63

Susan Turner – 63

Old Timey Yellow Cabbage Collard – 64

Old Timey Yellow Cabbage Collard – 64

Hard Headed Cabbage Collard – 65

Hard Headed Cabbage Collard – 65

Granny Hobbs – 66

Granny Hobbs – 66

Old Timey Green – 67

Old Timey Green – 67

Henpecked – 68

Henpecked – 68

Reba’s – 69

Reba’s – 69

Moses Smith Yellow Cabbage Collard – 72

Moses Smith Yellow Cabbage Collard – 72

E.B. Paul – 73

E.B. Paul – 73

Ellen Felton Dark Collard – 75

Ellen Felton Dark Collard – 75

William Alexander Heading – 76

William Alexander Heading – 76

Bill’s Pea Ridge – 77

Bill’s Pea Ridge – 77

Morris Heading – 50

Morris Heading – 50

White Cabbage Collard – 55

White Cabbage Collard – 55

Bradshaw Cabbage Collard – 54

Bradshaw Cabbage Collard – 54

Georgia – 53

Georgia – 53

Morris Heading – 51

Morris Heading – 51

Yellow Cabbage Collard – 49

Yellow Cabbage Collard – 49

Ethel Mae Byrd – 34

Ethel Mae Byrd – 34

Jernigan Yellow Cabbage Collard – 36

Jernigan Yellow Cabbage Collard – 36

Yellow Cabbage Collard – 37

Yellow Cabbage Collard – 37

Yellow Cabbage Collard – 38

Yellow Cabbage Collard – 38

Yellow Cabbage Collard – 39

Yellow Cabbage Collard – 39

Minnie Mizelle Cabbage Collard – 41

Minnie Mizelle Cabbage Collard – 41

Bradshaw Cabbage Collard – 42

Bradshaw Cabbage Collard – 42

Weldon Rouse Old Timey Cabbage Collard – 43

Weldon Rouse Old Timey Cabbage Collard – 43

Cabbage Collard – 44

Cabbage Collard – 44

Old Timey – 45

Old Timey – 45

Morris Header – 46

Morris Header – 46

Yellow – 48

Yellow – 48

Cabbage Collard – 29

Cabbage Collard – 29

Heodrig – 1

Heodrig – 1

Willis Collard Greens – 2

Willis Collard Greens – 2

Purple – 3

Purple – 3

Ole Timey Blue – 4

Ole Timey Blue – 4

Mesic 0 Degree Survivor – 6

Mesic 0 Degree Survivor – 6

Georgia Blue Stem – 7

Georgia Blue Stem – 7

Morris Heading – 13

Morris Heading – 13

North Carolina Yellow – 14

North Carolina Yellow – 14

Giant Purple Flatpoll – 18

Giant Purple Flatpoll – 18

Green Glaze, McCormack’s – 21

Green Glaze, McCormack’s – 21

White Mountain Cabbage Collard – 25

White Mountain Cabbage Collard – 25

Green Glaze – 26

Green Glaze – 26

Miss Annie Pearl Counselman – 27

Miss Annie Pearl Counselman – 27

Cabbage Collard – 28

Cabbage Collard – 28

Cabbage Collard – 30

Cabbage Collard – 30

Cabbage Collard – 32

Cabbage Collard – 32

Brickhouse Old Collard – 33

Brickhouse Old Collard – 33

Cannon’s Yellow Cabbage Collard – 71

Cannon’s Yellow Cabbage Collard – 71

Morris Header – 47

Morris Header – 47

Big Daddy – Greasy Green – 35

Big Daddy – Greasy Green – 35

Crinkle Leaf – 31

Crinkle Leaf – 31

This Project is organized by a core group of collard loving people and Organizations

southern-exposure-seed-exchange-logo
seed savers exchange logo
Ujamaa Cooperative Farming Alliance - Ujamaa Seeds

And a massive thanks to our funders, both past and present:

Southern SARE Heirloom Collard Project supporter
Ceres Trust - Heirloom Collard Project supporter
The 1772 Foundation - Heirloom Collard Project supporter
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