Family • Brassicaceae / Cruciferae - Brassica rapa (L.) - CHINESE CABBAGE, PAK CHOI - Ba cai

Scientific names

Brassica rapa (L.) cv group Pak Choi
Brassica rapa (L.) subsp. pekinensis (Lour.)
Brassica chinensis L. var. perkinensis (Rupr.) Sun.
Brassica pe-tsai L. H. Bailey
Brassica rapa L. subvar. pe-tsai (L.H. Bailey)

Common names

Pechay (Tag.)
Petchay (Tag.)
Petsay (Tag.)
Chinese cabbage (Engl.)
Chinese chard (Engl.)
Chinese celery cabbage (Engl.)
Snow cabbage (Engl.)
White cabbage (Engl.)
Pe-tsai (Engl.)

Other vernacular names

CHINESE: Bai cai, Huang ya cai, Da bai cai, Juan xin bai, Hung ya bai cai, Huang ya bai, Wong nga paak.
DANISH: Kinakål, Kinesisk kål, Petsai kål, Salatkål.
DUTCH: Chinese kool, Petsai kool.
ESTONIAN: Pekingi kapsas.
FINNISH: Salaattikiinankaali, Kiinankaali.
FRENCH: Chou de Pékin, Chou de Chine pommé, Chou pommé de Chine, Chou à salade pékinois, Chou pékinois, Chou blanc de Pékin, Chou de Shanton, Salade pékinoise, Chou pe-tsai.
GERMAN: Breitblättriger China-Kohl, Schantungkohl, Pekingkohl, Chinakohl.
GREEK: Kinezika lahana, Kineziko lahano.
ITALIAN: Cavolo sedano.
JAPANESE: Hakusai, Hakusai.
POLISH: Kapusta Pekinska.
PORTUGUESE: Couve petsai.
RUSSIAN: Kapusta Pekinskaja.
SPANISH: Repollo chino, Col de China, Col petsai.
SWEDISH: Salladskål, Sellerikål, Kinesisk petsai.
THAI: Phakkat khao pli

Pechay is an erect, biennial herb, growing about 15 to 30 centimeters tall in vegetative state. Leaves are ovate, spreading, and arranged spirally. Petioles are enlarged, growing upright forming a subcylindrical bundle. Inflorescence is a raceme with pale yellow flowers. Seeds are 1 millimeter in diameter, reddish to blackish brown in color.


– An ancient vegetable, cultivated over 4000 years.
– Cultivated in the Philippines, grown from low to mid elevations throughout the year.

– Each 100 g of fresh edible portion yields: water,93.0 g; protein, 1.7 g; fat, 0.2 g; carbohydrates, 3.1 g; fiber, 0.7 g; ash, 0.8 g; beta-carotene, 2.3 g;vitamin C, 53.0 mg; calcium 102.0 mg; phosphorus, 46.0 mg; iron, 2.6 mg; energy value 86.0 kJ.
– Vitamin content of a cup of shredded pechay: vitamin C, 20.5 mg; folate, 60 mcg; vitamin K, 32.6 mcg; with small amounts of vitamins A, niacin and B6.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Sorting Brassica names / /Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1995 – 2020 The University of Melbourne.

(2) Vitamins in Pechay / William McCoy, Apr 14, 2014 / Livestrong

(3) The effects of chloroform, ethyl acetate and methanolic extracts of Brassica rapa L. on cell-mediated immune response in mice / A. Jafarian*, B. Zolfaghari and M. Mirdamadi / Research in Pharmaceutical Sciences, August 2013; 8(3): 159-165

(4) Micronucleus Assay on Crude Petchay (Brassica rapa chinensis) Extract: Preliminary Study on its Cancer Chemopreventive Potential / E.V. Garcia*, N. N. Lontok**, A. A. Ramos / Proceeding of The International Seminar on Chemistry 2008 (pp. 280-284) / Jatinangor, 30-31 October 2008

(5) Effects of Brassica Rapa on Fructose-Induced Metabolic Syndrome in Rats: A Comparative Study / Amira M. Abo-youssef*, Rabab Mohammed / Int. J. Pharm. Sci. Rev. Res., 21(1), Jul – Aug 2013; n° 01, 1-5

(6) The antioxidant potential of Brassica rapa L. on glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase enzymes and total antioxidant status / Saima Gul / Sagheer Ahmed / Humaira Gul / Kaneez Fatima Shad / Muhammad Zia-Ul-Haq / Diana Badiu / Romanian Review of Laboratory Medicine, Volume 21, Issue 2 (Jun 2013)

(7)Brassica rapa L. / Folk Medicine / PurdueEdu


– Nutritional.
– Considered anti-tumor.

Parts used
Leaves, stems, seeds.


– Used primarily for its immature, fully expanded and tender leaves. Succulent petioles are preferred parts.
– Ingredient for soups and stir-fried dishes.
– In Chinese cuisine, green leaves are used as garnish.
– Roots eaten raw or cooked as vegetable.
– Tops used as potherb like spinach.



– No reported folkloric use in the Philippines.
– Elsewhere, stems, leaves, and powdered seed used as cancer remedy. Boiled roots used for breast tumors.

– Livestock: Roots used as livestock feed.
– Occasionally suspected of poisoning bovines, sheep, and pigs.

Study Findings
• Phytoremedition of Arsenic and Lead: Phytoremediation is a process of absorption of contamination, such as heavy metals, from the soil. Study evaluated B. rapa;s ability to absorb arsenic and lead from the soil. Results showed all plants contaminated with arsenic absorbed some of it. Only two of nine samples absorbed any lead. Under specific conditions, Brassica rapa is able to absorb arsenic but not lead.
• Immunomodulating: Study evaluated the effects of various extracts of Brassica rapa on cell mediated immune response in mice. In both innate and acquired immunity models, chloroform, ethyl acetate and methanolic extracts of B. rapa glands significantly and dose-dependently reduced paw thickness. Study assumes glucosinolates contributed in the more pronounced effects of the ethyl acetate extract and suggests further studies to identify the constituents and immunomodulating mechanisms.
• Glucosinolates / Anti-Cancer: Glucosinolates are S- and N-containing secondary metaboliltes found in abundance in plants belonging to the Bassicacaea genus. Study evaluated the mutagenic and/or anti-mutagenic properties of crude B. rapa chinensis extracts by comparing it against Mitomycin-C, a known mutagenic drug. Results showed glucosinates in the crude Petchay extract are potential antimutagenic compounds in human lymphocytes, and suggests glucosinates may potentially prevent cancer from proliferating in the human body.
• Effects on Fructose-Induced Metabolic Syndrome: Study evaluated the role of Brassica rapa on fructose-induced metabolic syndrome in rats. Results showed BR attenuated most of the changes associated with metaboic syndrome: reduced weight gain and blood glucose, MDA, nitric oxide, total triglycerides and total cholesterol, also elevating blood GSH and liver glycogen.
• Antioxidant: Study evaluated the antioxidant potential of crude extract and fractions from Brassica rapa for glutathione peroxidase (GPx), superoxide dismutase (SOD) enzymes and total antioxidant status in blood samples. Results showed concentration dependent effects of GPx, SOD, and TAS, suggesting potential applications for pharmaceutical usage due to its antioxidant properties.