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Useful Temperate Plants

Brassica rapa

L.

Brassicaceae


This species has been cultivated as a food crop for many hundreds of years and, in that time, several quite distinct forms have arisen. The nomenclature of these forms is confused, to say the least, and by no means universally accepted. We have followed the treatment used by GRIN, though it is very likely to be revised in the future[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

+ Synonyms

Barbarea derchiensis S.S.Ying

Brassica campestris rapa (L.) Hook.f.

Brassica campestris rapifera (Metzg.) Sinskaya

Brassica rapa rapifera Metzg.

Raphanus rapa (L.) Crantz

Common Name: Turnip

Brassica rapa
Harvested (and cleaned) roots
Photograph by: thebittenword.com
Creative Commons License

General Information

The turnip is a biennial plant developed in cultivation from wild forms of Brassica rapa. Growing from a fleshy taproot, it forms a loose cluster of leaves 30 - 50cm tall and, in its second year of growth, a flowering stem up to 100cm tall[
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Turnips are widely grown, both on a commercial scale and in gardens, for their edible roots.

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

Range

Derived in cultivation

Habitat

Not known in the wild.

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitBiennial
Height0.45 m
PollinatorsBees
Self-fertileYes
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details

The turnip arose through cultivation in the temperate zone. Basically a cool climate crop that is resistant to frost and mild freezes, it can also be cultivated at higher elevations in the tropics and subtropics[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 10 - 17°c, but can tolerate 7 - 30°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about -10°c, but young growth can be severely damaged at -4°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 900 - 1,400mm, but tolerates 300 - 2,000mm[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. [
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
].
Turnips are very easily grown, provided they grow quickly when young and the soil is not allowed to dry out[
264
Title
Vegetables
Publication
 
Author
Phillips. R. & Rix. M.
Publisher
Macmillan Reference Books, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0 333 62640 0
Description
Excellent and easily read book with good information and an excellent collection of photos of vegetables from around the world, including many unusual species.
]. They succeed in full sun in a well-drained fertile preferably alkaline soil[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. They grow best in a deep, friable, highly fertile soil with a pH in the range 5.5 - 6.8, though they can tolerate 4.3 - 7.5[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. They are said to prefer a light sandy soil, especially when grown for an early crop in the spring, and dislike a heavy soil[
37
Title
The Gardener's Assistant.
Publication
 
Author
Thompson. B.
Publisher
Blackie and Son.
Year
1878
ISBN
-
Description
Excellent general but extensive guide to gardening practices in the 19th century. A very good section on fruits and vegetables with many little known species.
,
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
]. They prefer cool moist growing conditions[
16
Title
New Vegetable Growers Handbook.
Publication
 
Author
Simons.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1977
ISBN
0-14-046-050-0
Description
A good guide to growing vegetables in temperate areas, not entirely organic.
].
A fast growing plant, it can take less than ten weeks from sowing to harvesting[
264
Title
Vegetables
Publication
 
Author
Phillips. R. & Rix. M.
Publisher
Macmillan Reference Books, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0 333 62640 0
Description
Excellent and easily read book with good information and an excellent collection of photos of vegetables from around the world, including many unusual species.
]. Its short growing season makes it very adaptable as a catch crop[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
].
Yields are normally between 20- 25 tonnes per hectare[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
In biomass trials, 2,000 - 2,500 litres of ethanol have been obtained from a hectare[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
There are several named varieties and by careful selection and successional sowing it is possible to harvest roots all year round.
The roots are fairly cold hardy and can be left in the ground during the winter, harvesting them as required. However, they can be troubled by slugs and other creatures so it is often better to harvest them in late autumn or early winter and store them in a cool but frost-free place.
Brassica rapa has long been cultivated as an edible plant and a large number of diverse forms have been developed. Botanists have divided these forms into a number of groups, and these are detailed below. Separate entries in the database have been made for each group.
Brassica rapa. The species was actually named for the cultivated garden turnip with its edible swollen tap root. This form is dealt with on this record.
Brassica rapa chinensis. Pak choi has long been cultivated in the Orient for its large tender edible leaves which are mainly produced in the summer and autumn.
Brassica rapa dichotoma. Cultivated in the Orient mainly for its oil-rich seeds.
Brassica rapa narinosa. Chinese savoy is another Oriental form. It is grown for its edible leaves.
Brassica rapa nipposinica. Mizuna is a fast-growing cold-hardy form with tender edible leaves that can be produced all year round.
Brassica rapa oleifera. The stubble turnip has a swollen edible root, though it is considered too coarse for human consumption and is grown mainly for fodder and as a green manure. It is also cultivated for its oil-rich seeds.
Brassica rapa parachinensis. False pak choi is very similar to Brassica rapa chinensis with tender edible leaves, though it is considerably more cold-hardy.
Brassica rapa pekinensis. Chinese cabbages are widely grown in the Orient. The large tender leaves often form a cabbage-like head.
Brassica rapa perviridis. Spinach mustard is grown for its edible leaves. A very cold-hardy plant, and also able to withstand summer heat, it can provide a crop all year round.
Brassica rapa trilocularis. Indian colza is mainly grown for its oil-rich seeds.
A good bee plant[
108
Title
Garden Plants Valuable to Bees.
Publication
 
Author
International Bee Research Association.
Publisher
International Bee Research Association.
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
The title says it all.
].

Edible Uses

Root - raw or cooked[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
,
5
Title
Food for Free.
Publication
 
Author
Mabey. R.
Publisher
Collins
Year
1974
ISBN
0-00-219060-5
Description
Edible wild plants found in Britain. Fairly comprehensive, very few pictures and rather optimistic on the desirability of some of the plants.
,
16
Title
New Vegetable Growers Handbook.
Publication
 
Author
Simons.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1977
ISBN
0-14-046-050-0
Description
A good guide to growing vegetables in temperate areas, not entirely organic.
,
132
Title
Fruits of the Earth.
Publication
 
Author
Bianchini. F., Corbetta. F. and Pistoia. M.
Publisher
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
Description
Lovely pictures, a very readable book.
]. Often used as a cooked vegetable, the young roots can also be grated and eaten in salads, they have a slightly hot flavour like a mild radish. A nutritional analysis is available[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
].

Leaves - raw or cooked[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
,
5
Title
Food for Free.
Publication
 
Author
Mabey. R.
Publisher
Collins
Year
1974
ISBN
0-00-219060-5
Description
Edible wild plants found in Britain. Fairly comprehensive, very few pictures and rather optimistic on the desirability of some of the plants.
]. The cooked leaves make an acceptable vegetable, though they are coarser than the related cabbage. They are more often used as a spring greens, sowing the plants in the autumn and allowing them t overwinter. Young leaves can also be added in small quantities to salads, they have a slightly hot cabbage-like flavour and some people find them indigestible[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. A nutritional analysis is available[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
].

Medicinal

A decoction of the leaves or stems is used in the treatment of cancer[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
].

The powdered seed is said to be a folk remedy for cancer[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
]. The crushed ripe seeds are used as a poultice on burns[
222
Title
A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America.
Publication
 
Author
Foster. S. & Duke. J. A.
Publisher
Houghton Mifflin Co.
Year
1990
ISBN
0395467225
Description
A concise book dealing with almost 500 species. A line drawing of each plant is included plus colour photographs of about 100 species. Very good as a field guide, it only gives brief details about the plants medicinal properties.
]. Some caution should be exercised here since the seed of most brassicas is rubefacient[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

The root when boiled with lard is used for treating breast tumours[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
].

A salve derived from the flowers is said to help treat skin cancer[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

Grows well with peas but dislikes growing with hedge mustard and knotweed[
18
Title
Companion Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B.
Publisher
Watkins
Year
1979
ISBN
-
Description
Details of beneficial and antagonistic relationships between neighbouring plants.
,
20
Title
Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.
Publication
 
Author
Riotte. L.
Publisher
Garden Way, Vermont, USA.
Year
1978
ISBN
0-88266-064-0
Description
Fairly good.
].

Other Uses

Turnip root peelings contain a natural insecticide. The chopped roots can be brewed into a tea with flaked soap, this is then strained before use. It is effective against aphids, red spider mites and flies[
201
Title
A - Z of Companion Planting.
Publication
 
Author
Allardice.P.
Publisher
Cassell Publishers Ltd.
Year
1993
ISBN
0-304-34324-2
Description
A well produced and very readable book.
].

The starch from the roots is a source of biomass, used for producing bio-ethanol[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Propagation

Seed - sow in situ from early spring to late summer. The first sowing can be made under cloches in late winter and will be ready for use in early summer. The latest sowings for winter use can be made in mid to late summer.
Cite as: Temperate Plants Database, Ken Fern. temperate.theferns.info. 2019-06-24. <temperate.theferns.info/plant/Brassica+rapa>

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