Brassica rapa perviridis
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[
Brassica perviridis (L.H.Bailey) L.H.Bailey
Common Name: Mustard Spinach
Plant prepared for sale in the market
Photograph by: Joga
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Mustard Spinach is an annual to biennial plant derived in cultivation from Brassica rapa. Growing around 30cm tall, it forms a rosette of basal leaves with slender, fleshy petioles.
The plant is commonly cultivated, mainly in China and Japan, for its edible leaves.
The oil contained in the seed of some varieties of this species can be rich in erucic acid which is toxic. However, modern cultivars have been selected which are almost free of erucic acid.
A cultivar of garden origin
Not known in the wild, it probably arose through cultivation from Brassica rapa chinensis, Pak choi[
Mustard Spinach is a very hardy plant. Although knocked back, it has withstood temperatures down to about -14°c and can be cropped for most of the year[
Succeeds in full sun in a moisture-retentive well-drained fertile preferably alkaline soil[
]. Prefers a cool moist reasonably fertile soil[
]. The plant is somewhat deeper rooted than many of the oriental brassicas and is more tolerant of drought, though it grows best if it is not short of water[
There are many named varieties[
It takes 55 - 80 days for plants to reach maturity from sowing[
]. Plants are much less likely to bolt from a spring sowing and are fairly resistant to summer heat[
Leaves - raw or cooked[
]. The flavour is a happy compromise between the blandness of cabbages and the sharpness of the oriental mustards[
]. The plant can be eaten at any stage from seedling to mature plant[
Flowering stems - raw or cooked[
]. Sweet and succulent, but becoming hotter as the plant matures[
Seed - sow in situ mid spring to September[
]. Some varieties can also be sown in a cold greenhouse in late autumn, winter or early spring to provide leaves overwinter and in late spring.