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What is the green color of turnips?

Turnips are a root vegetable that come in a variety of colors including white, yellow, red, and green. The green color of turnips comes from the presence of chlorophyll, the green pigment that allows plants to photosynthesize. The shade of green can vary between different turnip varieties, ranging from a bright kelly green to a deep hunter green.

The green color indicates some key things about the turnip:

The turnip is still growing

Turnips start off white when they first begin growing underground. As the turnip continues to mature, exposure to sunlight causes it to start producing chlorophyll and turn green. A bright green turnip likely indicates it was more recently harvested and is at its peak freshness and flavor. A pale green or white turnip may have been harvested too early before it fully matured.

The turnip variety

Different turnip varieties are bred to have characteristic colors. Some common green varieties include:

Turnip Variety Color
Tokyo Cross Bright Kelly Green
Seven Top Lime Green
Green Globe Deep Forest Green

The intensity of the green color can help identify what particular cultivar the turnip is. Tokyo Cross is known for its vivid bright green whereas Green Globe tends to be darker.

Nutrient content

The green color also provides a clue to the nutrient content of the turnip. Turnips get their green pigment from chlorophyll, which contains important antioxidants and health promoting compounds. Greener turnips tend to be more nutrient dense.

Some key nutrients found in turnips that contribute to their green color include:

Nutrient Benefits
Vitamin C Immune function, collagen production
Vitamin K Bone health, blood clotting
Lutein Eye health
Beta-carotene Vitamin A precursor

Turnips with a rich green color tend to have higher levels of these nutrients. The green color acts as a quick indicator that the turnip is nutritionally dense.

How Temperature Affects Color

Temperature can also affect the green color in turnips. Turnips grow best in cool temperatures between 45-75°F. Turnips exposed to colder temperatures may fail to properly develop chlorophyll, resulting in lighter greens or yellowing. Hot temperatures above 80°F can also reduce chlorophyll production. For the deepest green hues, turnips need consistent cool weather as they mature.

This effect of temperature on color can provide some indication of when and how the turnip was grown. Bright kelly greens likely developed in ideal moderate temperatures while heat-stressed turnips will seem paler.

Impact of Light Exposure

In additional to temperature, light exposure also impacts the green color. Sunlight encourages chlorophyll production and darker green hues. Turnips grown in partial shade may appear lime green rather than fully deep green.

The part of the turnip exposed to light also matters. The top shoulders of the turnip bulb near the leaves will often be more intensely green than the lower half that develops underground. This again relates to chlorophyll production requiring sufficient sunlight.

Moisture Content

Soil moisture can influence turnip color too. Proper watering is important for plants to successfully produce chlorophyll. Drought stress or uneven watering can generate paler areas on the turnip due to lower chlorophyll levels.

The overall uniformity of the green color provides signs about the growing conditions. Even deeply green turnips likely received consistent watering. Pale green blotches may indicate insufficient water at some point during development.


The green color of a turnip provides a surprising amount of information about the vegetable. Bright kelly greens indicate an optimally grown turnip at peak freshness. It also signifies higher antioxidant content from chlorophyll and other phytonutrients. Factors like temperature, sunlight, and moisture all influence the specific shade. Next time you’re picking turnips, let the green color guide you to the healthiest, freshest specimens!