Wild radish

Raphanus raphanistrum
Cabbage family (Brassicaceae)

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Raphanus raphanistrum, also known as wild radish, white charlock or jointed charlock, is a flowering plant in the family Brassicaceae. One of its subspecies, Raphanus raphanistrum subsp. sativus, includes a diverse variety of cultivated radishes. The species is native to western Asia, Europe and parts of Northern Africa. It has been introduced into most parts of the world and is regarded as a habitat threatening invasive species in many areas, for example, Australia. It spreads rapidly and is often found growing on roadsides or in other places where the ground has been disturbed.


Wild radish grows as an annual or biennial plant, with a single taproot which is similar to that of the cultivated radish but less enlarged. It has basal leaves that are oblong-elliptic to spatula-shaped, the stem leaves are shorter and lobed. It has hairy stems and can grow to between 20 and 60 centimetres (8 and 23+12 inches) tall. It blooms between May and September, in the UK, or between June and August, in the US. The flowers very similar to those of the searocket, which is found in some of the same regions (in the US) and is easily distinguished from it by having thinner, non-succulent stems and leaves. The stems have wide spaced, four-petalled flowers 30–40 mm (1+141+12 in) across and varying in colour, usually from white to purple but sometimes light orange to yellow, often with colour shading within a single petal. Later, on a short stalk, it produces a podded seed capsule. Up to 8 round jointed pods, each containing one round or oval seed.


It was formally described by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in his seminal publication 'Species Plantarum' on page 669 in 1753.

The genome of wild radish is estimated to be ~515 Mb in size, whereas that of the edible variety is suggested to be ~539–574 Mb. Several Raphanus raphanistrum genomes have been sequenced, with one study reporting 98% coverage of the gene space. Researchers found evidence that the past whole-genome triplication that occurred before the divergence of Raphanus and Brassica has been followed by widespread gene loss in radish, resulting in the loss of ~38,000 genes from the wild radish genome.

Raphanus raphanistrum has several known subspecies including:

  • Raphanus raphanistrum subsp. landra (Moretti ex DC.) Bonnier & Layens ('sea radish')
  • Raphanus raphanistrum subsp. rostratus (DC.) Thell.
  • Raphanus raphanistrum subsp. sativus (L.) Domin

It has several common names including jointed charlock, jointed radish, jointed wild radish, white charlock, and wild radish.

It is often erroneously identified as mustard.

Distribution and habitat

It is native to temperate regions of North Africa, Europe and parts of Western Asia.


It is found in North Africa, within Macaronesia, Madeira Islands, Canary Islands, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia. Within Western Asia it is found in the Caucasus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey. In eastern Europe, it is found within Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine. In middle Europe, it is in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia and Switzerland. In northern Europe, in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and United Kingdom. In southeastern Europe, within Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia. Also in southwestern Europe, it is found in France, Portugal and Spain.


It is frost hardy, and even hard freezes only temporarily interrupt bloom. In Australia, it is regarded as a habitat threatening invasive species in many areas. In Canada, it is a naturalised species and sometimes hybridizes with cultivated radish, R. sativus. It has also proved to be resistant to several herbicides.

In southeastern USA, the pale yellow form is common, sometimes entirely taking over fields in wintertime. It is a significant source of pollen and nectar for a variety of pollinators, especially honey bees during the very early spring starting buildup. Female Andrena agilissima, or mining bees, frequent this plant to obtain pollen and nectar. Other pollinators include cabbage butterflies and a few syrphid fly species.


All tender parts of the plant are edible. The leaves and flowers have a spicy taste or aftertaste. The seedpods can be eaten, as can the outer skin of the root (after being washed). It is said that John Walker cultivated sea radish root as an alternative to horseradish after discovering the plant on the west coast of Scotland as early as 1753.



External links

  • Raphanus raphanistrum world wide occurrence data (from GBIF)
  • Genome and transcriptome resources for Raphanus raphanistrum on NCBI
  • Jepson Manual Treatment
  • USDA PLANTS database entry
  • Comprehensive profile for Raphanus raphanistrum from MaltaWildPlants.com
  • Washington Burke Museum
  • UC Davis IPM
  • Photo gallery
  • Raphanus raphanistrum Flowers in Israel



WWW info


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Wild radish
Ravanello selvatico
Raphanus raphanistrum [L.]
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