Classification and identification 
Major groups 
There are four major groups of cauliflower.
- Diverse in appearance, and biennial and annual in type, this group includes white, Romanesco, various green, purple, brown and yellow cultivars. This type is the ancestral form from which the others were derived.
- Northwest European biennial
- Used in Europe for winter and early spring harvest, this was developed in France in the 19th century, and includes the old cultivars Roscoff and Angers.
- Northern European annuals
- Used in Europe and North America for summer and fall harvest, it was developed in Germany in the 18th century, and includes the old cultivars Erfurt and Snowball.
- A tropical cauliflower used in China and India, it was developed in India during the 19th century from the now-abandoned Cornish type,  and includes old varieties Early Patna and Early Benaras.
There are hundreds of historic and current commercial varieties used around the world. A comprehensive list of about 80 North American varieties is maintained at North Carolina State University.