What Are Black Spots on Broccoli and How to Deal with Them

Is broccoli your favorite food? Or do you plant broccoli in your garden? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, you might have noticed getting some black spots on broccoli. Many people are not sure on what to do with these spots. And there is also divided opinion regarding the palatability of broccoli with black spots.


There is no denying the broccoli is a super food or nutritional powerhouse that is quite affordable, anytime of the year. It is loaded with dietary fibers, vitamins C and K, iron, folate and potassium. Not only that, it is also rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants, beta carotene and phytochemical sulforaphane which could lower your risk of cancer. The best thing about broccoli is that it is low in calories and is generally fat-free. This makes broccoli the best choice of food for people who want to lose weight.

According to "Cooking Light," a fresh broccoli head could last up to 10 days in the refrigerator. It loses its nutritional value and flavor as it becomes older. That is why it is important that when you shop or harvest broccoli, you should pay attention to all signs of freshness. Black spots on broccoli are a sign that the vegetable is no longer fresh.

What Are Black Spots on Broccoli

There are two types of black spots on broccoli. One appears on the plant itself while the other appears on its head. Depending on where the black spots are, there are various solutions available.

1- What Are Black Spots on Broccoli Plant

Some young sprouts develop bluish-black spots on the stems and leaves, causing them to stop growing and die. This condition is called blackleg. It is a fungal disease that causes the sprouts to rot or girdle at soil level. The culprit in this disease are the cabbage maggots or cutworms. If you notice them on your broccoli plants, remove and destroy the infected plants immediately. Be sure that no plant debris is left in sight. After removing everything, add organic matter to the soil. Additionally, keep the soil well-drained.

To prevent blackleg on broccoli plants, try doing companion planting with mint and encourage the presence of predatory trichogramma wasp.

2- What are Black Spots on Broccoli Head

In many cases, broccoli heads develop black spots. This is one sign of decomposition. It happens if the broccoli head is not properly stored or when it has been stored for a long time. Aside from black spots, you may also notice an unusual smell on the broccoli.

In an article published by Livestrong, harder vegetables including broccoli, cabbage, onion and potation are safe to eat if you remove the infected sections. This is according to the Baylor College of Medicine.

To avoid getting black spots on broccoli heads, make sure to pick the fresh ones when shopping for fresh produce. And when you do, proper storage is key to keeping it fresh for up to ten days. You need to wrap the heads in plastic before storing them in the refrigeration. If you start to see yellow or black spots, it is a sign that the broccoli is past its prime. There are also alternative ways to store broccoli and avoid black spots. They are through drying, freezing and pickling.

How to Inspect Broccoli to Ensure Freshness

The rule of thumb for broccoli is that the greener it is, the better. If you notice some yellowish tint or black spots on the heads, don’t buy them. Slippery bud is also a sign that the broccoli is going bad. Other signs to look for when buying broccoli include holes in between the florets and stems that becoming dry or brown and wilting. However, if there are dark patches on the broccoli head, you may just cut away that portion, including a 1-inch section surrounding it, and then consume the rest.

Your sense of smell can also help you determine the freshness of broccoli. Broccoli has a recognizable smell that is a bit strong, but it should not be too pungent. If the smell is off, just don’t buy it.

How to Harvest Broccoli to Ensure Freshness

There are two main types of broccoli. One is the sprouting variety which produces many small flowers that you can harvest over time and the other is the heading variety which just produces a single stalk.

You can harvest the sprouting variety once the heads have already formed and are already dark green in color. Regular harvesting will encourage side shoots but make sure not to strip the whole plant. Don’t allow the head to turn yellow as this will cause the broccoli to become tough and woody no matter how you prepare it.

For heading varieties, the ideal time to harvest is when the head is already dark green in color and the florets are already tight while the stalk is still firm. Use a sharp knife to remove the head. Smaller side shoots may develop within three weeks after harvesting.

Did you know…

That the broccoli we eat is an immature flower belonging to the cabbage family? The head of the broccoli is a cluster of tiny flower buds. They are so tiny because their normal development is slowed down so that the immature flowerets will grow into large groups.


Black spots on broccoli can appear not just in the head but also in the plant itself. Our guide should help you properly deal with black spots when you see them. If you are buying broccoli from the supermarket, it is important to know how to identify the ones that are still fresh. If you are growing your own, what matters is being able to harvest at the right time.


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Ella Wilson

Hi! This is Ella Wilson, the founder of tinyplantation.com. Being a devotee with plants and gardens, you will find numerous things with me. I have developed enough interest regarding plants that these things do not bore me anymore; instead this has become my passion.