Cock’s Comb: The Funky, Woolly Vegetable

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Cock’s comb, also known as rooster’s comb, cockscomb, brain celosia, wool flower, and botanically known as celosia, is a flowering herb belonging to the amaranth family.

Cock’s comb flowers come out as compacted crest heads on leafy stems. The plant starts blooming in summer and keeps on till late fall. Cock’s comb flowers come forth in bright gold, red, yellow, and pink. In spite of their showy colors, the flowers have no fragrance.

The plant’s name is derived from its blossom’s resemblance to a rooster’s comb.
The name brain celosia is attributed to its shape which looks like the human brain, while the word celosia is borrowed from the Greek word kelos, which means burned, referring to the brightly colored flowers of some cock’s comb species.

Cockscomb’s origin is attributed to Africa and Asia while some schools of thought attribute it to North and South America. However, its culinary and ornamental value has seen it spread around the world. Today, cockscomb is eaten in Asia, Africa, and America.

The brightly colored, crested blossom heads of the plant are considered ideal for the cut flower industry due to their beauty and longevity in flower vases.

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Cock’s comb thrives in hot, well-drained areas with sufficient moisture. It rarely survives frosts and should be planted well into summer as it doesn’t like wet conditions.

The plant is easy to grow both indoors under sufficient light and outdoors in direct sunlight. It is quite independent once planted in an environment simulating its natural habitat and grows effortlessly like a garden weed. If you are looking for a flower to add color, drama, and beauty to your garden or living room, this is your to-go plant.

Cockscomb’s flowers, leaves, and stems are edible. The leaves and stems have a flavor similar to spinach while the flower’s taste often varies depending on where the plant is grown. Rooster’s comb flower is used in soups, stews, and side dishes to meats. The leaves, flowers, and stems can be steamed, or boiled and eaten as a vegetables. To give the dish a kick, you can toss in hot chili to the cooked or stir-fried cockscomb. It is also ideal for smoothies, dressings or sauteed with pepper and salt. In addition, the flowers are great for garnishing salads, cakes, and smoothies and go nicely with various meats.

Cock’s comb is a great source of iron, vitamins, and surprisingly, protein, especially when harvested young. It is also an ideal source of phosphorus and calcium. Apart from its use as a vegetable, cock’s comb is used as a herbal remedy as it has tonic, antidiabetic and laxative properties.

Cock’s comb is such an interesting flower with its crazy shape and colors. It is almost too beautiful for a vegetable but, hey, it’s never a bad idea to eat a good looking flower, right?

Cock's comb flower
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Cock's comb: The funky, woolly vegetable
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Cock's comb: The funky, woolly vegetable
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Cock's comb, also known as rooster's comb, cockscomb, brain celosia, wool flower, and botanically known as celosia, is a flowering herb belonging to the amaranth family.
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